Diet is exceptionally important when trying to overcome any type of illness, injury or disease naturally, anxiety disorder included! In fact, there have been several studies that have proven certain foods to help – and hurt – your anxiety. While some food items can make you feel calmer, others can act as a stimulant that can cause your anxiety to spike. So, if you’re interested in knowing the foods to avoid with anxiety, keep reading.
7 Major Ingredients To Avoid With Anxiety
The number one culprit to causing anxiety to increase is caffeine! This one ingredient item is a central nervous system natural stimulant which makes it so power at waking you up in the morning but it also comes with various side effects that can trigger anxiety. For example, too much coffee (or even one cup of coffee) can cause heart palpitations, jitters, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, etc. All of these are also symptoms of anxiety; the second you feel them, you start to panic and the vicious cycle begins. So, avoiding that cup of java in the morning can also eliminate that jolt of anxiety.
If you’re an avid coffee drinker or simply like to enjoy an iced coffee from time-to-time (#Guilty), try to reduce you caffeine intake, especially on days when you’re already anxious or have to do something that causes you to have anxiety. Switch to anxiety-friendly teas for those days or altogether, and don’t forget that caffeine is found in many other things that just coffee.
Food items that contain caffeine
- Coffee, lattes, cappuccino, espresso, etc.
- Some teas (here’s a list of excellent teas for anxiety)
- Energy drinks
The idea of eliminating salt from your diet can feel like eliminating oxygen from your life – everyone appreciates a little sprinkle of salt. However, too much of it can lead to serious health conditions, including a spike in anxiety.
Salt increases your blood pressure which forces your heart to work harder. This causes your body to release stress hormones which can trigger tension, edginess, jitters, etc. Try to eliminate your salt intake by using natural herbs and spices to add a pop of flavour into your foods instead.
As a rule of thumb, if it’s not natural, it probably isn’t doing anything good for your anxiety. Things such as sweetener (aspartame), high fructose corn syrup, MSG and even food dyes have been linked to causing an increase in anxiety. So, they’re definitely foods to avoid with anxiety.
The tricky thing is that these food ingredients aren’t always easy to spot. Often times, they’re disguised in some of your favourites, such as gum, syrup, salad dressings, sauces, juices, etc. So, get in the habit of reading the ingredient list on everything before you buy it. Not only will this help your anxiety but it will also help your health as a whole.
Types of Food Additives to Avoid with Anxiety
- Aspartame – gum, ice cream toppings, “sugar-free” food items, table sweeteners, pudding, etc.
- Opt for real sugar-free, natural alternatives
- High fructose corn syrup – pop, sweetened yogurt, salad dressing, junk food, breads, canned fruits, juice, etc.
- Opt for natural, pure sources instead such as 100% natural honey or maple syrup
- MSG – Soups, salad dressings, snacks, frozen foods, fast foods, chips, beef jerky
- Check the ingredient list before buying any of these items
- Food Dyes – snacks, juices, condiments, salad dressing, cereal,
- Always check the ingredient list and opt for organic alternatives because food dyes can be found in anything
It’s no secret that sugar is one of the top foods to avoid with anxiety. Heck! It’s the top food to avoid for a lot of things. In a nut shell – pardon the pun – sugar is bad but not all sugar is created equally. While natural sugars such as maple syrup and honey should still be enjoyed in moderation, they are much better than eating sucrose, fructose and other refined sugars.
Refined sugars can make you feel really sluggish and tired. It can even cause certain hormones to increase in production, causing a spike in anxiety and panic attacks. So, if it’s not a natural source of sugar, you should probably avoid it. Think sweetened breakfast cereals, snacks (pudding, chips, fruit roll-ups, jello, etc.), fast food, muffins, cookies and other baked treats, chocolate milk, juice, energy drinks, sport drinks, pop, condiments… And the list goes on.
This is especially important for parents seeing anxiety in children. Popular snacks and food items for kids are packed with refined sugars, many of which have been linked to causing behavioural concerns. So, if you have an anxious child, check their diet!
Types of Refined Sugars to Avoid with Anxiety
- Fruit juice concentrates
Everyone loves some good junk food; you simply wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. However, it’s imperative to enjoy these tasty treats in moderation because many of the ingredients used in popular junk food items can be linked back to causing an increase in anxiety. So, opt for healthier alternatives and snacks when you can.
Growing up, the creator of Anxiety Gone had “treat nights” on Friday and Saturday. These were the only nights her and her siblings were allowed to have some pop and chips – and no, not the whole bag or can. Remember, moderation, folks! So, if you have anxious children or are anxious yourself, consider what you’re eating and think about adding “treat nights” into your household.
Breads, Pastas and Anything with Gluten
Anything that’s high in carbohydrates and/or gluten can also be added onto the list of foods to avoid with anxiety. Yes, that includes your beloved breads and pastas. Gluten is commonly associated as being a massive anxiety trigger for many sufferers such as yourself. So, cutting out wheat, barley and rye products from your diet can be an excellent way to manage your anxiety better.
Healthier bread and pasta alternatives
- Vegetable pasta noodles (less gluten)
- Gluten-free alternatives to your favourite breads and pastas
- Spiralize vegetable noodles
- Sweet potato instead of starchy potatoes
After a long, anxious day, the only thing you want to do is come home and pour yourself a glass or red. You aren’t alone! However, don’t be fooled; alcohol is only making things worse in the long run. Not only is it a depressant but alcohol has also been linked to interfering with your body’s production and use of serotonin. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter you need to regulate your mood, and as an anxiety sufferer, you are likely already experiencing a deficiency or lack in serotonin. So, drinking alcohol – especially on the regular – should be eliminated if you’re serious about overcoming anxiety naturally.
15 Foods to Avoid with Anxiety
To wrap up this Anxiety Gone article, here are the top 15 foods to avoid with anxiety:
- Energy drinks
- Fruit juice
- Frozen foods
- Processed foods
- Fast food
- Fried foods
- Sugary snacks
- Baked goods
- Starchy carbs
- Salted snacks (chips, beef jerky, salted nuts, etc.)
It isn’t always practical to eliminate these foods from your diet altogether. However, when you’re experiencing heightened anxiety or know you have to do something on a particular day that causes your anxiety to increase, these are great foods to avoid with anxiety. Simple food choices can mean the difference between feeling courageous and comfortable and feeling like you’re standing on the edge of a panic attack. So, if you can eliminate them altogether, even better.