When I’m stressed, the last thing I think about is asparagus! BUT I should.

In fact, asparagus is listed as one of the top ten foods that helps reduce anxiety. According to Men’s Fitness eating healthy will calm your system. 

Alternatively, reaching for typical comfort foods increase anxiety. In the end, leaving us feeling worse for having gorged ourselves.

I’m particularly interested in food because I like to cook, I have a lot of anxiety and I LOVE to eat.

Did I mention I over analyze? Everything! It’s crippling.  I literally come up with a strategy for everything I go. In fact, the more I think about it, the more anxious I get.

I’m going to push past the anxious sensation and see what we discover about eating healthy.

What you should eat

1.       Oysters – Not a fan.

a.       According to Mindbodygreen.com anxiety is linked to an imbalance of zinc and copper. Luckily, oysters are packed with zinc!

2.       Turkey – Now we’re talking!

a.       According to the great people at Mindbodygreen.com the little devil tryptophan that puts you to sleep on Thanksgiving, also tells your body to feel calm.

3.       Avocado – Huge fan!

a.       Avocado is a super fruit! It contains both potassium and B vitamins. Both are needed for your neurotransmitter and brain health.

4.       Dark Chocolate – The French really are onto something.

a.       According to a placebo-controlled trial, people who drank 1.5 oz of dark chocolate per day, felt calmer.

5.       Asparagus – I didn’t forget. Bake 350, olive oil & spice on top for 10 min. Perfecto!

a.       This little veggie is chalked full of sulfur, vitamin B and folic acid. Low levels of folic acid have been linked to neurotransmitter impairment. Meaning, it’s harder for your brain to process information.


6.       Fatty meat – Yum

a.       Omega-rich foods are a very conducive way to reduce anxiety.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, grass-fed beef. The article I read researching the article mentioned it, so I felt I would.

7.       Whole Wheat Bread – Love

a.       According to Everydayhealth.com carbohydrates increase production of serotonin in the brain.

b.      Whole wheat takes longer to breakdown. Therefore it does not causing a surge in energy, followed by a crash.

8.       Greek Yogurt – Not a fan

a.       The yogurt is full of protein.  According to Everydayhealth.com, protein stimulates the production of the brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine. Both of which carry impulses between nerve cells.

b.      Higher levels are shown to improve alertness, mental energy, and reaction time.

c.       Not a yogurt fan like me? Try fish, meat, cheese, eggs, nuts, beans, soy and lentils.

9.       Chamomile Tea – Haven’t had it

a. Chamomile is available in a variety of forms including: tea, topical ointment, capsules, liquid extracts and dried flower heads.

b. Drink three to four cups daily for a modest benefit 

10.   Eat Breakfast – I’m really bad at this

a.       According to Health.com skipping breakfast is one of the worst things someone with anxiety can do.

b.      Include healthy protein for breakfast to help wake up and stay balanced.

c.       Skipping breakfast leads to low levels of choline and are associated with increased anxiety.

What you shouldn’t eat

If you suffer from anxiety, there is a list of foods to avoid.  As I start this list, I’m already feeling anxious. Good old #1 includes my favorite thing. Soda.

1.       Sugar, white bread, white rice – Pretty much anything yummy

a.       While not a candy eater, I LOVE soda. This one hurts

b.      Processed sugars break down quickly in our systems. Provide a quick and powerful punch. A few short hours later, we are lethargic and needing more.

c.       In the most real terms, this is a drug addiction. According to wbur.com sugar is more addicting that cocaine.

i.      This was certainly an eye opener for me. I definitely understand why I reach for a soda whenever I’m upset, tired, depressed or happy. Who knows? I love the stuff.

2.       Coffee and all caffeinated drinks – This hurt

a.       Caffeine is shown to inhibit serotonin in the brain. If suppressed for a sustained amount of time, you can become depressed and/or feel irritable.

b.      Caffeine is also a diuretic. Meaning, you could become dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water.

c.       Caffeine intake varies by person, but drinking caffeine late into the day can inhibit sleep. If you are not getting enough, you are back at step one.  It’s a vicious cycle.

No surprise on this next one

3.       Alcohol – Easy enough

a.       After giving myself alcohol poisoning nearly 17-years ago, this one isn’t too hard.

b.      Alcohol cannot offer any permanent solutions. You merely put off the problems for another day. Often with the result of the problem increasing.

c.       Alcohol is a diuretic. Drink caffeine all day, and alcohol at night and you could become severely dehydrated.

i.      The key is moderation. No one is saying never drink again. I drink on occasion. However, one drink feels like 5.  It’s not a lot of fun.

ii.      Try drinking a glass of water between drinks.

4.       Hot Dogs – No problem

a.       Any type of processed foods such as sausage, pie and cakes could cause anxiety.

b.      According to a London researchers, eating a fatty diet increases the risk of depression.

c.       According to the same study people who regularly consumed fried food, high-fat dairy and sweetened desserts are 58% more likely to suffer from depression.

5.       Artificial Sweeteners – Eh

a.       Aspartame is known to block the production of serotonin.

b.      Signs and symptoms include: headache, insomnia, and change in mood and YES depression.

c.       NutraSweet and equal are dually guilty.

Ready for the last 5? I wasn’t

6.       Fast Food – Dang, I can’t get a break

a.       According to Eatthis.com, people who eat fast food are 51% more likely to develop depression.

When we say fast food, we’re talking about hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, and commercial baked goods. Eating a small portion of any one food is unlikely to raise depression risk, but if you see Ronald, Wendy, The Colonel or Popeye on a regular basis, a drastic dietary adjustment would be a great step toward happier feelings and less depression.”

b.      25 Things Fast Food Chains Don’t Want You to Know. This will gross you out!!

7.       High Sodium Foods – MMM Fries!

a.       Mini mounds of sodium AKA salt messes with your emotions. It can disrupt your neurological system. Which, can, directly contribute to depression.

b.      Sodium also leads to bloating, and can contribute to weight gain and negative body image. Needleless to say, further depression will follow.

8.       Tofu – Very surprised to see it!

a.       Soy is high in copper, which is linked to anxious behaviors.

b.      Contains trypsin and protease inhibitors. Both make digesting protein difficult. 

c.       If you must eat it, try fermented varieties like tempeh and miso.

9.       Canned Soup – I do keep it in the cabinet for a quick meal

a.       To quote eatthis.com:

If grandma wouldn’t recognize it, cook with it, or enjoy eating it, get rid of it. That’s the basic nutrition advice from most anti-anxiety experts who recommend a traditional, whole foods diet.”

Nutritionist Trudy Scott goes on to say:

 I have my clients avoid processed foods at all costs. The foods you choose shouldn’t have labels; and if they do, they shouldn’t read like a chemistry experiment.”

10.   Apple Juice – Boooo!

a.       Unlike its whole food counterpart, juice is devoid of fiber and jacked up with refined fructose.

b.      The result? A mad rush of the stress hormone adrenaline. Symptoms mimic that of a panic attack.

c.       Fructose is shown to alter how the brain responds to stress from a genetic perspective.

d.      Most apple juice brands have tested positive for arsenic. A toxin known to induce anxious behavior and worsen depression.

I gotta say…. I wasn’t expecting a few of those

Well, I don’t know what to say. I think I’m in utter shock at the foods to avoid list.  Some, sure.  No one should eat. Hot dog? Okay. We’ve all heard the stories.

But Apple Juice. Really?

 I’ve heard many times of the high sugar content, but arsenic? People feed that to babies!!! What hope do any of us have?

Writing this article, perhaps, has increased my anxiety. I like fast food on occasion, but processed foods terrify me.

Don’t believe me. Flip a box over sometime and read the ingredient list. Of ANYTHING!! It’s doesn’t matter. You aren’t going to be able to pronounce it.

Know what that means? Man-made chemicals.

Final Thought

There is a reason processed foods are cheaper than whole foods. While I focus on anxiety, I also have a daughter who wants to have a baby.  The list of foods to avoid when conceiving or pregnant is nothing short of everything in the store.

Do what you can, but you do need a strategy. Personally, I don’t think anyone should strive for perfection. I’ll still drink soda. I’m not delusional. But I will try to cut back. That is the best any of us can do. Make a small change and build.

Before we know it, we’ll have made significant changes in our lives. Changes, which hopefully, will make a big difference.

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