The Anxiety Diet: Food to Avoid

We all know that the food we eat has an effect on our bodies, but a lot of people don’t realize that extends to our state of mind. Different foods and how your body processes them can have a profound impact on your anxiety level and can influence it for better or worse. I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist so I might get some of the details wrong, and also what has or hasn’t worked for me may or may not work for you. Based on my experience and research though I’ve found that making these few small changes to your diet can have a positive effect.

The most obvious culprit to cut is caffeine, I think this is the most common thing for someone to remove from their diet when dealing with anxiety. I’ve been on-and-off the caffeine train a few times over the years but I’ve always felt better on days I skip it. It can be tough, caffeine really helps me cut through the fog but throughout the day I can be jittery, and very quick to panic. I can’t seem to kick coffee, so I’ve switched to decaf and if I ever need a little boost then green tea is my current go-to.

Sugar is another big thing to cut. In addition to the negative effects it can have on your health, sugar can increase feelings of anxiety. Ironically, sweets can be a coping mechanism for stress but it can actually reduce your ability to manage stress and, of course, increase your anxiety. This is probably my greatest weakness, but I try to manage it best I can. I’ve cut out soda, and I only have sweets when I’m in a comfortable place and I’m not going anywhere. It would be better to cut it out entirely, but one step at a time, right?

Fried foods are the bane of my existence. Even though I love to eat them, no other type of food gives me the same level of anxiety. I’ve been curious about why this is, but my research has only proven that I’m not the only one looking for answers. (If you happen to know, leave a comment!) I suspect it has something to do with the little-to-no nutritional value these foods provide, combined with the body maybe not processing it well. I’m pulling this all out of my butt here, all I know for sure is that the worst-case scenario for cutting fried foods is that it will benefit your health.

The final thing I suggest avoiding is dairy, which is something I’ve only recently cut from my diet. The hormones and antibiotics given to the cows we get our milk from have been shown to increase adrenaline, and as anxiety-sufferers we all know what that does to our mental state. Also, adults really aren’t fully able to process milk, and some develop lactose intolerance. I’ve come to enjoy almond and coconut milk products, from ice cream to creamer for my coffee. However, cheese is irreplaceable, so I’ve just cut down on it a lot.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, there are so many other foods that can affect anxiety. These foods are just the big ones I’ve found affect me the most and seem to be the most common based on my very unscientific research on the subject. I’m planning a follow-up that will talk more about the foods you should eat to help anxiety but I need to do some more research on that. In the meantime, what foods that I haven’t mentioned affect your anxiety?