4 Ways Good Nutrition Can Reduce Anxiety
The busier life gets, the more we need energy to power through the days. Paradoxically, many of us put off eating enough healthy food in the moments when we need it most. It may seem easier to skip a meal or grab a quick snack, but you may just be adding to an already challenging problem. Instead of skipping out on nutrition, let’s find out how meals can help you to thrive!
1. I’m Sorry for What I Said When I Was “Hangry”
When you don’t eat regular meals, blood sugar drops. This state of hypoglycemia can cause symptoms that feel like a panic attack. Shaking, sweating, palpitations, vertigo, and numbness in the extremities combine with feelings of anger, confusion, and nervousness making you feel even worse. You might yell or freak out when what you really need is a snack. You can outsmart this process by simply eating regularly. Take note of what time you eat a meal and prepare to eat again no more than three hours later. Consider setting an alarm if you get busy. This might require you to prepare food to bring along with you, but it’s better than snapping at a coworker when you’ve already burned through your bagel.
2. Anything But Sweet
When hunger finally does hit, it usually comes with a sugar craving. Before you reach for those Smarties or the Kit Kat, consider this: sugar increases anxiety symptoms. Sugar is also connected to depression, inflammation, and compromised cognitive abilities like learning and memory. Of course, sugar is also linked to diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain…still want that candy? It’s always better to eat a full meal containing fats, protein, and complex carbohydrates, but let’s face it….that’s just not realistic sometimes. You can still make low-sugar choices like almond butter and celery, a handful of pistachios, hummus, and carrot sticks, or plain yogurt and blueberries. If you’ve got a little more time to prepare, a quick Google search can yield hundreds of recipes for make-ahead snacks like oat energy bars, frittata cups, and roasted chickpeas. One hour of work on a Sunday can keep you well fed and feeling good all week.
3. Gut Check
These days, the connection between gut health and mood is well established. Called “The Gut-Brain Axis”, this relationship is said to be one of the most important keys to mental health since up to 95% of serotonin receptors are found in the lining of the gut. Scientists point to the colonization of the intestines with healthy bacteria as integral to the production of neurotransmitters that encourage mental health. You can boost the good bacteria by eating more vegetables, increasing overall fiber in the diet, and reducing alcohol intake since it has negative effects on gut health. Focus on including pre-biotic foods like bananas, onion, garlic, brussels sprouts, and broccoli, as well as pro-biotic foods like yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchee. Over time, you can look forward to improved moods and even better digestion.
4. Munchie Myths
There’s no doubt that these changes will help you feel better, but it can be hard to break habits if you’re hanging on to myths about eating that are just not true. Statements like “Eating will just slow me down”, “I need sugar for energy”, and “There’s no time”, are not only untrue but end up being empty excuses for not taking care of yourself. To be your best, you need fuel in the tank, so eat up!