Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Foods That Help Anxiety

If you have generalized anxiety disorder, did you know that watching your diet and changing the foods and drinks you consume can help with managing your anxiety symptoms? It’s true: eliminating some foods and adding others to your daily meals can help lower anxiety levels and provide positive effects that help you feel better.

While changing your diet is not going to cure you, reducing your symptoms can help you better cope with what life throws at you. For example, Mayo Clinic research has shown that, because caffeine makes most people jittery and alcohol can affect the quality of your sleep, minimizing or eliminating them from your diet can help you feel less nervous and irritable. Conversely, drinking enough water (ideally 64 ounces a day) can help keep you from becoming dehydrated; dehydration can bring on mood changes.

Foods That Help Anxiety

There are many foods that can aid in controlling anxiety levels. By adding or increasing these “foods that calm” to your diet, you can help manage your generalized anxiety disorder symptoms:

  • Complex carbs (brown rice, *whole grain breads and pastas)
    • *Seaweed and kelp is a good alternative for those who are gluten sensitive
    • Provide balanced serotonin levels: keeps you happy and calm
    • Supply magnesium: a magnesium deficiency can contribute to anxiety
  • Peaches, blueberries, acai berries
    • Rich in vitamins, phytonutrients, and antioxidants: provide calming nutrients
  • Vegetables and legumes
    • Strengthen your immune system
  • Healthy fats such as those found in nuts and seeds
    • Contain zinc and iron to ward off brain fatigue and increase energy
  • Water
    • Circulates anxiety-reducing hormones through your body
    • Dehydration can result in mood changes
  • Chocolate: pure, dark chocolate without milks and sugars
    • Reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, and improves your mood
  • B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants
  • Certain herbs such as passionflower and kava

Foods to Avoid or Minimize

Certain foods might provide you with a boost of energy or give you a temporary sense of calm, but the effects wear off quickly and often leave you feeling worse:

  • Simple carbs, high-glycemic carbs (white bread, white flour, cookies, cakes, anything with a high sugar content)
    • Give you an energy boost, followed by a “crash” that can produce anxiety
  • Fast food, fried food, processed food, foods with a high salt content
    • Makes your body more acidic, leading to more anxiety
  • Alcohol
    • Initial sense of relaxation, but disrupts sleep patterns, leading to anxiety
  • Caffeine, especially if you are prone to panic attacks
    • Small amounts can be soothing, but caffeine increases your heart rate, leading to nervousness and raising your anxiety levels

Even though there is no “diet” that will cure your generalized anxiety disorder, healthy eating is one of the best ways to control the symptoms of apprehension and stress. By incorporating more of the foods that help anxiety into your diet, you should see a decrease in your anxiety levels and an increase in energy which will make you feel better and more able to cope with various situations. Also, keep in mind that changing your diet does not replace therapy and professional treatment for your generalized anxiety disorder.

For more information and help for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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