Anxiety? 10 Foods You Should Be Eating (and What To Avoid!)

Occasional anxiety is a part of life. You may feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before making a big change, or deciding on an important decision.

But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. Anxiety disorders are typically treated with psychotropic medications and therapy.

However, many people do not know that eating specific foods can help ease anxiety naturally.

There are foods that will help cure anxiety, and foods that will contribute to anxiety, and by choosing the right foods, you can drastically cut down on the amount of anxiety you experience and possibly improve your mood.

How does food influence mood?

The food you eat ultimately controls your mood because of its effects on your blood sugar levels. If you have too much sugar in your blood, this can be stressful for your brain. Likewise, if you have too little it can have negative outcomes as well.

You may have too much sugar in your bloodstream when you have a meal high in carbs such as a bowl of pasta or breakfast pastry. When you do this, the food is broken down quickly into glucose and increases the amount of sugar in your blood.

This rise in blood sugar often gives you a sugar high that lasts a short duration of time. However, this can be dangerous if done excessively and cause issues such as hyperglycemia. This is when insulin comes in an brings the blood sugar down.

This drop in blood sugar is what makes you feel sluggish, lazy and foggy.  Following that, your adrenals take effect and produce fight-or-flight hormones (such as adrenaline (epinephrine) or noradrenaline (norepinephrine).

The release of chemical messengers results in the production of the hormone cortisol, which increases blood pressure, blood sugar, and suppresses the immune system. These hormones cause anxiety symptoms, such as shortness of breath and racing heartbeat.

Typically when we feel on edge the temptation is to reach for the usual suspects, comfort foods like pizza and pasta, chocolate or cigarettes and alcohol.

This is due to the release of the feel-good molecule serotonin making us feel a sense of relief, but this feeling is short-lived! And unfortunately this is usually followed by blood sugar imbalances that can make us even more anxious.

This ongoing process is not only fatiguing for your mind and body but also has an extreme effect on your hormones. Blood sugar is a significant and often overlooked culprit in producing anxiety.

Luckily, this can all be managed by what you eat! Blood sugar balance is a uncomplicated method that involves eating healthy fats and protein every meal and avoiding refined sugar and caffeine.

Make sure to include these 10 foods in your diet to help control and ease anxiety.

1. Oysters

Research shows that low intake of zinc is directly correlated with anxiety and depression. Zinc influences both the nervous system and immune system as well.

Oysters are packed with this zinc, with only two of them containing well over the recommended daily intake.

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can get zinc from legumes, nuts and seeds.

2. Coconut oil and grass-fed butter

Good fats such as butter, coconut oil, cream, lard (from organically raised animals), and olive oil, soothe and quiet the nerves.

Coconut oil offers significant benefits for many cognitive, mental and physical health conditions.

Eating healthy fats plays a huge part in blood-stabilization which can help to manage mood and appetite. It is suggested to eat healthy fats with each and every meal!

3. Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy veggies such as swiss chard, kale and spinach fight anxiety because they are rich in magnesium! Magnesium is known as a natural chill pill to keep you calm.

Other foods high in magnesium include nuts, seeds, avocados and dark chocolate. Also, a magnesium supplement may be beneficial if you struggle with anxiety.

4. Eggs

Eggs are a wonderful source of B vitamins and protein, which can be more satiating than a carb-based breakfast. Throw some kale or spinach in your eggs for a stress-busting breakfast!

Make sure to eat good quality eggs, the best option is to get them at your local farmers market. And don’t forget the yolk!

5. Tea

Instead of having coffee to help with your afternoon slump, try substituting with a hot cup of tea or a cool iced tea with lemon.

Chamomile tea has been popularized as the go-to tea for relaxation.  It’s caffeine-free (like everything else in this list) and retains many of the same health benefits as green tea.

The effects of drinking chamomile can accumulate over several days after consumption, so make this your brew of choice on a daily basis, and check in after a week to see if you feel the benefits.

Green tea is also a good choice because of it’s high antioxidant content. Green tea can help you to relax because it contains theanine.

Note: Green tea does have caffeine, so if you’re looking to calm down, you may want to try the decaffeinated kind. Mint and Valerian root are other great tea options.

6. Complex carbs

Scientists believe carbohydrates cause the brain to produce more serotonin, a hormone that relaxes us. Some examples of healthy comfort food include sweet potatoes, all bean chili, and quinoa.

Make sure to eat carbs that are unprocessed. It is best to combine these complex carbohydrates with healthy fats. Such as a quinoa salad with black beans and avocado, or sweet potatoes roasted with coconut oil.

7. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause brain problems that present as anxiety, depression and fatigue.

Vitamin B12 is typically known for its physical health benefits, such as an increase in energy and immune system function. What many people do not know, is that vitamin B12 can greatly influence your mental health as well.

B12 can also support heart health, which is important if you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, which cause immense stress on the heart.

Foods high in vitamin B12 include sardines, liver, raw cheese and milk, eggs and tuna.

If you are vegan or vegetarian, a B12 supplement may be the best idea due to B12 vitamin being found in animal products.

8. Bone broth

Not only does bone broth make you look good, but it will make you feel good too!

Bone broth is a natural and rich source of collagen. Due to this,  bone broth has a powerful effect on the skin. Moreover, bone broth has gained a lot of popularity because of it’s ability to heal the gut.

Anxiety alleviation comes from the action of glycine in bone broth. Glycine is an amino acid that slows down the production of norepinephrine which induces feelings of anxiety. This can either decrease specific instances of anxiety, or lessen the intensity of the feelings when they do come on.

Starting or ending your day with a hot cup of bone broth is a great idea to nourish your gut, ease anxiety, and aid digestion.

9. Tryptophan

L-tryptophan is an amino acid that has been linked to the calming effects you may feel after eating Thanksgiving turkey. L-tryptophan is a precursor to the brain chemical serotonin, which helps regulate mood and promote calm and sleep.

Lowering tryptophan levels activates a parallel drop in brain serotonin production and can influence mood, weaken memory, and amplify hostility.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that is produced by the body, but is additionally found in foods such as oats, bananas, and of course TURKEY!

10. Omega-3 fatty acids

The brain is extremely perceptive to inflammation, it requires a continual source of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats to protect it. These fats support neuron communication and aid to develop healthy brain cell membranes that fight off anxiety.

Fatty fish that is high in omega-3’s include wild Alaskan salmon, mackerel and tuna. Likewise, nuts and seeds such as walnuts, chia seeds, almonds and flaxseeds are very high in omega-3’s.

Fish oil supplements are another great option to get your daily dose of omega-3’s.

Avoids these 7 foods if you suffer from anxiety

Similar to how certain foods ease anxiety, there are specific foods can trigger stress and anxiety and exacerbate anxiety symptoms.

  1. Refined Sugar
  2. Trans-fats
  3. Caffeine
  4. Food Additives (such as MSG, artificial sweeteners and preservatives)
  5. Processed Foods
  6. Gluten
  7. Alcohol

Eat to beat stress…

There is simply no easy way to completely rid your life of anxiety. Nonetheless, you can remove specific foods from your diet and add in these 10 foods to help ease your anxiety.

Some foods can start working right away, while others may help lessen anxiety over time. It is also crucial to avoid the 7 foods listed above because they have been known to trigger anxiety and cause stress.