Eating well to help manage anxiety
Working toward a well-balanced diet with adequate fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats remains a good recommendation for those who struggle with anxiety, according to an article in Harvard Health Publishing.
“Avoiding processed foods and foods high in sugar means the body experiences fewer highs and lows of blood sugar, which helps to further reduce feelings of anxiety,” said Dr. Uma Naidoo, director of nutritional & lifestyle psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and faculty member at Harvard Medical School.
“Very simply put, a sugar rush can mimic a panic attack,” she said,
For example, eating a frozen dinner and ice cream will affect you differently than eating chicken and broccoli with a pasta made from whole grains or quinoa. The second meal includes whole, unprocessed foods, and you control the amount of sugar, if any, added to the meal. It takes longer for your body to metabolize these foods, which helps you feel fuller for longer and keeps blood sugar levels steady, rather than yo-yoing up and down.
While your body needs a healthy balance of sugar, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to function, it is also that very balance that helps keep us healthy. Consuming sugar through natural sources such as a piece of fruit, and not fruit juice or dried fruit, affects your body differently than candy or hidden sugars in your foods.
As with any dietary change, your body will need some time to adjust. If you are otherwise healthy and cut back on processed sugar, you may feel your anxiety slowly improve thanks to fewer ups and downs caused by the excess sugar.
However, its worth noting that diet alone is inadequate in combating anxiety. Prayer, mindfulness techniques, enough sleep, hygiene, and exercise are all equally important parts for mental health.