The Anti-Anxiety Diet: 3 Foods To Avoid

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I have recently decided to become much stricter with my anti-anxiety diet. I’ve mentioned a couple of times on here about the mind-gut connection, and the best foods for soothing your mind, and I think it’s high time I started to take things more seriously!

I already use MyFitnessPal to help me keep track of what I’m eating — and to avoid the mindless afternoon munchies! And so I am going to also note down my anxiety levels and energy levels for that day, and really see for myself what affect my diet is having on my mental and physical health. Then I’ll let you all know how I’m getting on, and how my findings could help you, too.

I’m going to be using the fantastic Anxiety and Depression book written by the Medicinal Chef as my basis, and I would really recommend you giving it a read if you are interested in the anti-anxiety diet. It’s fascinating stuff.

I’ve also created a anti-anxiety diet food cheat sheet, which I’ll be uploading to the members’ area.

Not a member yet? Don’t worry, just sign up using the box at the bottom of this post and you’ll get access to all sorts of goodies and resources for living a healthier, happier and less anxious life.

In the meantime, here are three things I’m going to try to avoid and why.

  • Sidenote: none of these things cause anxiety or mental health disorders, but there is research to suggest that they can make the problem worse.

Caffeinated Drinks

Caffeine is the Western world’s favourite drug, with more and more people grabbing coffees on their way to work and having tea breaks throughout the day. With coffee alone, 2.25 billion cups are drunk a year! And plenty of people claim to be addicted to the stuff. Here are a few caffeine facts.

Caffeine blocks the depressant function of adenosine (a chemical in your brain which regulates sleepiness and alertness). In other words, caffeine makes us feel more alert and energetic. Which is what most people are looking for at 7am when they’re getting ready for work!

However, it also interferes with cortisol production. Most of us drink a caffeinated drink first thing in the morning to wake us up. This is when cortisol levels are higher — cortisol is involved in our circadian rhythm, and makes us wake up in the morning. By drinking caffeinated drinks, we interfere with our body’s natural alarm system and it means we start to release less. This leads to much sleepier mornings, and needing to drink more caffeine.

This can cause problems in people with anxiety disorders, or who are under a lot of stress.

By altering our sleeping patterns, it can make it harder to fall asleep and get enough rest. And, as I’ve talked about before, getting enough good quality sleep is vital for our mental health.

Furthermore, studies have shown (as I mentioned above) that caffeine increases cortisol levels to the extent that they are similar to those experienced by a person suffering from serious stress. In other words, our bodies react the same way to coffee as they do to a stressful event. Definitely not ideal if you are already anxious and overwhelmed.

Caffeine also inhibits the production of the neurotransmitter, GABA, which is responsible for making us feel calmer and happier.

Conclusion:

Of course, there are also positive sides to drinking caffeinated drinks but I would be interested to see from my own perspective whether cutting out my morning tea ritual makes a difference to my mental health.

Natural cortisol levels drop down between 10am and 12pm, and then 2pm and 5pm. So perhaps, if I really feel a need for a cuppa I will try drinking one then.

As a Brit — we drink a lot of tea! — this is going to be a tough challenge I think!.I love my cups of tea but equally I think it will be great to see what kind of a difference it might make in my anti-anxiety diet…. I’ll keep you posted!

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