Whether it’s your own brain fog, depression, dizziness, irritability, lack of energy, or mood swings, mental health is affected by what we consume as food and drinks.
Children’s unbalanced behavior, learning difficulties can be and is affected by food or bad mood food is something that affects our minds.
I tweaked the following excellent piece from passionate foodie Hannah Hepworth sheds some light on foods that we would do well to avoid or drastically cut down on.
Nutrition is probably one of the most underrated components of any anti-anxiety program. We normally don’t think that foods can cause or exacerbate anxiety but in truth, they can.
Just as good, healthy, unadulterated foods can strengthen your body, because food is information for your cells, food can also wreak havoc and cause unnecessary stress in your body. In this blog post I’d like to walk you through the top 5 foods to avoid if you have anxiety.
I have to warn you, you may read through this list and feel like you been sentenced to death because your diet is mostly made up of these foods. This is not meant to stress you out more! This is to help you become aware of any bad mood foods in your diet so you can begin to decrease and eliminate them.
If you eat all of them on a regular basis, pick 1 that you can begin eliminating from your diet. Go slow, experience success and improvement and then drop another. Let’s get started!
I’ll just start with this food first. We all love it, many of us are even addicted to it, although we may not like to admit it;) Sugar is a major stressor to your body. Sugar tastes wonderful, but it’s void of nutrients giving you empty calories.
When you fill up too much on sugary foods (which can also be foods that turn to sugar quickly like simple carbs i.e. white flour, white rice…) you don’t leave yourself room to eat nutrient dense foods like fruits and veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, raw dairy and meat. You can eventually become deficient in many nutrients which then creates a host of problems that cause and exacerbate anxiety and stress.
Sugar also promotes inflammation in the body. This can be located ANYWHERE in the body, do your joints ache? Do you suffer from mental illness? Inflammation is the root of all illness.
Make a goal to eliminate sugar for 1 week. See how you feel. You might not even realize how yucky it makes you feel until you add it back in. Try it out for yourself!
This isn’t something that I’ve ever really struggled with as I’m not a soda, coffee or tea drinker.
However, I know tons of people who can’t live without their “Dew” or their Diet Coke multiple times a day. The thing with caffeine is that it depletes B-vitamins (namely B1), which are so important for a healthy, unfrazzled nervous system.
Caffeine also triggers an adrenalin release just like stress does and can cause and exacerbate panic attacks. If you struggle with panic attacks please eliminate caffeine! It restricts blood flow to the brain, causes your heart to race (think anxiety) and dehydrates your whole body.
You can get coffee replacements like Barley Cup or Dandelion Root Coffee.
Sometimes just the simple act of drinking ample water is enough to reduce anxiety in a person.
Processed foods lack nutrients. They are often so processed that manufacturers have to add nutrients back into them to be able to deem them as “food.” This is a bit of a stretch in my opinion. Our grocery stores are filled with a majority of packaged foods teaming with fake colors, flavors and preservatives to make them more enticing, visually appealing and to light up our taste buds, (more on this later). Bottom line, start shopping the perimeter of the grocery store. If you struggle with anxiety your body is already a stress ball, you don’t need to add to it by eating nutrient void foods. They have no place in your diet. We need to include processed meats in this category.
You might have been tricked into thinking that all fats are bad but this simply isn’t the case. Each of our trillions of cells have a membrane around them that are made up of fat. Bad fats include any fat that says hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated before it. Bad fats also include canola (rapeseed) oil, peanut oil, corn oil, margarine, cottonseed oil, soy oil, crisco, vegetable oil, and safflower oil. Most foods that are processed contain unhealthy fats. When you eat these fats they make the membrane around your cells become stiff and rigid, making it hard for your cells to communicate with one another.
When you eat healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, and butter you are nourishing the cell membranes helping them stay fluid and flexible which allows them to communicate with one another. If you have anxiety, you better believe you want your brain cells communicating properly with one another!!
Good fats also nourish your nervous system. Strive to switch out the bad fats in your diet with good fats. Add them to smoothies, cook with them and slather them on toast, potatoes and rice (brown that is;)!
Excitoxins- MSG/Fake Sugar
I’m going to lump these last two ingredients together. I can’t really call them foods though. MSG otherwise known as monosodium glutamate and fake sugar which can go by the names of aspartame, sucralose or saccharine, among other names listed in this article by Dr. Oz are both damaging to your brain cells and nervous system.
MSG is a damaging food additive that enhances the flavor of many foods from soups, to salad dressings, crackers, frozen dinners and commonly in Chinese food.
MSG is considered an excitotoxin which means that it overexcites your cells to the point of death and can cause brain damage. You can read more about what MSG can do to your body and names that it can go by in this article by Dr. Mercola
Fake sugar is similar in that it can damage your nervous system and excite the neurons in your brain making them fire like crazy until they die. I’ve shared information on staying away from fake sugar before on social media and am usually contacted by diet soda companies telling me there’s no evidence.
I personally know multiple people, including myself, who have experienced adverse effects of eating fake sugar. 3 times after I have eaten even tiny amounts of food with fake sugar I have had extreme dizziness and a damaged feeling in the nerves of my head. A couple times I couldn’t walk in a straight line, and it took a few days to really subside. If you struggle with anxiety you don’t need to be eating ANYTHING that could even POTENTIALLY be damaging to your nervous system.
When you are anxious your nervous system is in a state of high alert. We want to calm the nervous system, and activate your body’s relaxation response so you can get your body in a state to where it can begin healing naturally.