Food & Anxiety
How Eating Decisions Help or Hurt Your Stress Level
What is anxiety?
Of course we have all heard the term “anxiety” and “stress” thrown around during our craziest days, but let’s start with an official definition.
Anxiety: a feel of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
Stress: a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.
For many, it seems a common temptation to combat stress and anxiety by jumping into emotional eating. The term “comfort food” brings to mind all those scenarios when food jumps in to attempt and bring “comfort” to your emotional chaos. Can’t handle your work projects? Maybe a bowl of chips to snack on while working will help. Sad about a breakup? That pint of ice cream is calling your name.
And yet, food can actually serve as a tool to help you remain calm and at ease. The first step is to identify the nutrients and foods that will help!
Studies have shown that having a deficiency in B vitamins can lead to higher levels of anxiety and depression in some. Being sure your diet includes rich sources of vitamin B is a great way to proactively avoid this. Leafy greens, avocado, lentils and beets are excellent sources of folate.
Many of us pack our diets with vitamin C to prevent the common cold, but this vitamin has been shown to also reduce physical and psychological effects of stress. Research published in “Psychology Today” (April 2013) suggests that people with a deficiency in vitamin C are less able to react to stressful situations in comparison with those with high levels of the vitamin. Make sure you’re including some of these vitamin C filled foods into your day: Bell peppers, citrus fruits, papayas, leafy greens, tomatoes, berries & peas.
More than food
Find a way to insert a cup of tea into your routine. Drinking tea in and of itself is a calming routine that puts you at ease. Chamomile, Peppermint, Lemon Balm & Green Teas are delicious options that offer herbal comfort for those anxious afternoons! (Caffeine caution! Be sure to spot out caffeine free teas to avoid feeling extra nerves.)
What to avoid
Just as important as including foods that reduce stress, you’ll definitely want to consider other aspects of your diet. Do you commonly eat foods that contribute to your anxiety? Some of these types of foods include: unrefined sugars, fried foods, alcoholic beverages, caffeine, and high glycemic carbs.
Food is not the only answer to curing anxiety, but with some dedicated shifts in diet, you may feel relief from typical symptoms of stress. Plus- your body will be grateful for the nourishing nutrients you’re packing into the day!
How do you use food to reduce stress? Share your experiences and comment below!