Anxiety is something that affects roughly 40 million American adults and is something that completely interferes with overall quality of life. (1) Anxiety can lead to symptoms of nervousness, poor sleep, irritability, and can even contribute to feelings of chronic fatigue.
There are also many different types of anxiety which include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Social anxiety disorder
- Panic disorders
- Major depressive disorder
The good news is that there are treatment options available from therapy to prescription medications. However, there are also some natural things you can do in combination with a treatment plan you may already have in place, and it all starts with diet. Believe it or not, diet plays a huge role in how we feel mentally.
Let’s take a look at five foods that make anxiety worse and then some healthier options you can enjoy instead.
5 Foods That Make Anxiety Worse
#1 Sugar: We all know that too much sugar can be detrimental to our health, but it can also cause blood sugar imbalances which can lead to increased feelings of anxiety.
Swap With: Try to skip the added sugar in your coffee or tea, and use a teaspoon of raw honey instead. You can also eliminate as many processed and boxed foods from your diet as you can, and choose things like unsweetened yogurt, unsweetened dairy-free milk, and make your own homemade salad dressing to skip out on some of the biggest sources of added sugar.
#2 Dairy: Dairy can trigger inflammation in the body, and inflammation is the underlying cause of just about every disease seen today. Anxiety and depression have recently been linked to inflammation, so choosing to eliminate inflammatory foods from your diet may prove to be very helpful for how you feel mentally. (2)
Swap With: Choose dairy-free milk options like almond or coconut, and unsweetened coconut-based yogurt for a yummy treat.
#3 Gluten: Gluten can be very damaging to gut health, and for those that are gluten sensitive, have Celiac disease, or leaky gut syndrome, consuming gluten may be damaging the gut lining. Poor gut health has time and time again been linked to anxiety and depression. So, in an effort to protect the health of your gut, you may want to try a gluten elimination diet to see if it helps to improve your anxiety symptoms.
Swap With: The good news is that there are tons of gluten-free options available today. From brown rice gluten-free pasta to quinoa, and gluten-free oats. You definitely have delicious options!
#4 Artificial Coloring: Many people are sensitive to artificial food dyes, and let’s face it, the foods they are found in often aren’t the healthiest options. These artificial colors and especially red dye have been known to exacerbate ADHD symptoms, and since they can disrupt nervous system function, they may very well make anxiety symptoms worse.
Swap With: Skip any foods that have artificial colors and additives and stick to whole foods that don’t have a food label instead!
#5 Caffeine: It’s unlikely that one cup of coffee in the morning is going to throw you into a total anxiety tailspin, unless you are super sensitive to caffeine. But, too much can definitely make you feel more jittery and on edge.
Swap With: Instead of drinking caffeine to boost your energy levels, try supplementing with an adaptogenic herb blend like Yinergy or Vigor to provide a stable well-balanced energy boost all day while also helping you feel a bit more centered.
The Bottom Line
If you suffer from anxiety, your diet may be playing a larger part than you think. Try eliminating these five foods from your diet, and choose healthier swaps to see if it makes a difference in how you feel both mentally and physically.