Here’s some good news to keep in mind the next time you’re stressed out: Eating may be a stay-calm trick. We’re not talking about stuffing yourself with your typical go-to comfort food, such as mac and cheese or French fries, because that will only leave you feeling guilty and even more anxious. Often, dealing with a full-blown anxiety disorder usually requires therapy, but milder cases of anxiety can be treated with lifestyle changes including dietary improvements and regular exercise. To overcome anxiety with foods, try the following tips.Instead, feed your body- and your anxiety- with one of these foods!
As a follow-up to our Mood Boosting Foods series, Health Fitness Revolution has put together a list of the best foods that naturally reduce anxiety:
- Chammomile Tea: Has been proven to reduce anxiety. Read our list of healthiest teas.
- Increase your Intake of Omega-3s. They protect against inflammation and have been shown to improve people’s overall mood, ability to cope with stress, and ability to kick substance-abuse habits. The many benefits of Omega-3 are listed in this article we wrote.
- Eat B-complex Vitamins. The B vitamins are believed to combat anxiety by affecting your brain’s production of neurotransmitters. Natural sources of B Vitamins:
- B-6: legumes, cereal grains, leafy vegetables
- B-12: eggs, salmon, cheese
- Thiamin: seeds, pork, nuts
- Biotin: peanuts, cauliflower, mushrooms
- Riboflavin: cottage cheese, liver, yogurt
- Niacin: mushrooms, meat, wheat
- Pantothenic Acid: legumes, eggs, yeast
- Folate: citrus, leafy greens, seeds
- Include Protein in your Breakfast: This makes your breakfast more energizing, which can help combat the effects of anxiety during the day. Read our article on the importance of eating breakfast here.
- Stay Hydrated! Even mild dehydration can negatively affect your mood. Read our article on drinking more water here.
- Avoid Simple Carbohydrates (like sugary foods) and Eat complex carbohydrates. These are believed to increase the level of serotonin in the brain, which has a calming effect. Read our article on switching to whole grains here.
- Eat Foods High in Tryptophan beacuse this amino acid can reduce anxiety by promoting better sleep. Examples include cheese, chicken, soy products, eggs, tofu, fish, milk, turkey, nuts, peanuts and peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. (Disclaimer: The scientific community is split on whether soy products are good or bad for health, with half of studies praising soy products and the other half disagreeing- we will let you decide for yourself how you feel about them.)
- Try Valerian Root: It is known to be a natural sedative and sleep aid.
The following should be avoided to reduce anxiety:
- Avoid Caffeine: It can make your anxiety more pronounced by making you feel jittery. Also, the stimulating effect of caffeine can take up to eight hours to wear off and interfere with your ability to rest.
- Cut back on omega-6 fatty acids which are largely found in vegetable oils, can increase inflammation in the brain and have been linked with mood imbalances.
- Avoid alcohol. Despite its immediate calming effect, the process of digesting alcohol can actually make you feel edgy and interfere with your ability to sleep. Read tips on cutting back on alcohol here.