Even though it’s not fully understood, what you eat can have an impact on how you feel, including your anxiety levels.
While we all experience anxiety from time to time, each of us with our own personal triggers, anxiety can build up in our bodies and manifest in unexpected ways. It’s all valid, from having an embarrassing freakout with friends for no apparent reason, to eating most of the contents in our fridge without noticing that anything’s off.
While we all know stress eating is a thing, can food help us manage our anxiety? There’s a clear link between anxiety and our stomachs, with our stomachs usually being one of the first parts in our bodies that signal our brains that we’re feeling anxious. When stressed out, it’s common to experience a change in our diets, whether that’s a lack of appetite, too much appetite or feeling nauseous.
Health and nutrition educator Jodi Godfrey, MS, RD, spoke to Psycom and explained a bit more about this link. “Researchers now refer to the gut as the second brain. When essential nutrients are not sufficiently available, there is a direct effect on the production of neurotransmitters and brain chemistry that can increase or lessen anxiety-related behaviors.”
She says that switching up your diet can have a positive outcome on your anxiety and that this change shouldn’t be as daunting as some make it out to be. “The most important and simple dietary change for anyone who has anxiety is to plan meals around whole foods, lowering or eliminating the number of processed foods including sweets and snack food.”
There’s no clear explanation for the connection between anxiety and stress, but like most mental health conditions, a healthy diet and a regular sleep schedule can produce significant benefits. When it comes to the foods people should eat, The Huffington Post spoke to several experts who recommend foods that contain nutrients like zinc, magnesium, vitamin B, and fatty acids. These experts recommend having these foods for breakfast, that way you’re able to set the tone for the rest of your day.
Foods like avocados, eggs, yogurt and salmon are simple foods that are filling and that can be incorporated into a variety of breakfast dishes. These foods contain healthy fats, oils and proteins. When used properly and not paired with heavy foods, they’ll leave you feeling satisfied and not bloated, which is a feeling that is often associated with anxiety.