Believe it or not, our diet can have a massive impact on our mood. For people with anxiety disorders, studies have shown that some foods can work to calm us while others put us at greater risk of being overwhelmed and stressed, stimulating or triggering anxiety and even panic attacks altogether. This isn’t to say eating the wrong kind of bagel is going to throw you over the edge and spin you into the most stressful day of your life. And to the contrary, according to the Mayo Clinic, no perfect diet can cure chronic anxiety but it is certainly worth being aware of the foods that aren’t helpful.
Eating a higher-protein/lower-carb breakfast is always a good start, along with choosing foods that boost serotonin and even simply staying hydrated. Small doses of chocolate and anything with tryptophan are examples of other foods that can act as a temporary mood booster. So what are some of the specific foods to avoid whenever possible?
Oh no, this one’s going to be a heartbreaker for some. Yes, caffeine is a stimulant, which would lead you to believe coffee would be better for anxiety than not. If you’re in any way sensitive to caffeine or just not used to it, though, it can make you nervous and jittery as well as keeping you up late at night. A lack of sleep or poor sleep is a surefire way to leave a door open for chronic anxiety and depression.
Alcohol at the end of the night can and will mess with your sleep patterns. While one drink may be good for taking the edge off, being unaware of what dosage is actually good for you is key. If nothing else, be wary of having anything more than one or even two drinks in an entire day.
Sugar is certainly something to stay away from for people with anxiety and depression and frosting definitely has plenty of that. But sugar isn’t the main culprit in impacting anxiety as frostings are often loaded with trans fats. These “partially hydrogenated oils” can also be found in many fried foods, cakes, cookies, and even pizza dough.
“But they’re so amazing!” Doughnuts are packed with almost everything in the book of what not to eat if you struggle with anxiety: all the wrong kinds of fats, snow-white flour with little fiber to slow absorption, and lots of added sugar.
The natural sugars in fruit can be great for you but the fiber in those fruits that slows down your blood and fills you up is all gone once it’s pressed into juice. Once the fiber is all gone, the sugar is really what you’re left to process. And all that does is give you a real quick spike of energy with an equally fast and hard crash.
Sugar-sweetened drinks have a strong link to depression thanks to their heavy sugar content and complete absence of nutritious value. And diet versions are no better just because they have no sugar. In fact, the very things used to replace sugar in diet drinks can have a link to depression as well, and too much caffeine from any soda drink can be a quick route to anxiety.