When you feel anxious, it can be an easy ‘quick fix’ to reach for comfort food that makes you feel a bit better about things. Unfortunately, the common treats that you might think are helping could be making things worse.
General anxiety is a recognized medical disorder that falls short of more severe conditions such as full-blown depression. Still, it is something that can have severe negative impacts on an individual and a knock-on effect for their friends and family.
Symptoms of anxiety can manifest in physical terms as well as psychological ones. A generally low-level feeling of fear, tension, irritability and worrying to excess about things that other people seem to take in their stride every day, are just some of the most common problems.
These can lead to difficulty concentrating and also interfere with interpersonal relationships both at home and in the workplace or study environment. Even more, the common physical effects of the hormones released into your body by continued anxiety can cause muscle tension and particularly of note, tightness in the chest. That, in turn, can even lead to heart palpitations and a dangerously high heart rate.
Food for thought
Thankfully, there are many effective ways that you can tackle feelings of anxiety and the effects that it has on you. As mentioned, eating is often a ‘first resort’ solution that many people use to calm themselves. It works similarly to how anxiety causes stress on your body because eating something you like releases ‘feel-good’ hormones that can counteract the feelings and effects caused by the ‘stress hormones.’
However, this dopamine hit is short-lived and, depending on the food you are using to achieve the effect, it can do more harm than good!
Of course, anyone suffering from anxiety can look outside of themselves for help. Counseling and therapy have always been popular tools used by people looking for how to reduce anxiety, and today finding this kind of assistance is easier and more discreet than ever.
Even so, many people feel that talking to a third party about their problems makes them feel even more anxious, which is why many successfully find an online DIY solution.
We all know that a varied and balanced diet made up of good quality fresh ingredients is essential for overall health, but you might not realize how big a part it also plays in your overall mental well-being.
Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from good quality natural food sources are full of nutrients that can help maintain the right mix of chemicals in your body, making it easier to feel good about yourself and everything around you.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are known by everyone to be a healthy eating choice, but whole grains can play a big part in a well-balanced diet too, and the benefits of all of these increase if they are organically grown and produced.
Denying yourself a treat is never going to help cheer you up, let alone win the battle against anxiety, so more good news is that ‘treat’ food such as chocolate can also help.
The thing to remember is that, as with every other food, highly processed versions are likely to do more harm than good. You need to look for naturally produced high-quality products, and that also applies to chocolate. Dark chocolate, like eggs, cheese and even turkey meat, is high in tryptophan –this means that you gain an essential amino acid that cannot be produced by the body on its own.
Nuts about food
Nuts are another healthy addition you can make to your diet to ward off anxiety, and they have many far-reaching health benefits.
Almost all nuts, but in particular almonds, are a great source of vitamin E. This is important because in medical studies a lack of this vitamin has been linked to various mood disorders.
Perhaps the most crucial neurotransmitter when it comes to improving your mood and sense of well-being is serotonin. It is the chemical in your brain that is the focus for major prescription SSRI drugs used to treat depression, such as fluoxetine, citalopram, and sertraline under brand names like Prozac, Celexa, and Zoloft.
However, in many cases of anxiety, you can use foods with high levels of tryptophan, used by your body in the process of creating serotonin, to avoid medication. By making changes to your diet, you can begin to help yourself to sleep better, regulate your appetite, and increase your mental relaxation and happiness.