Calming Anxiety with Food

· January 17, 2015
Anxiety can easily go from a manageable emotion to become an unbearable burden. Find out how to calm your anxiety in the article below.

Overcoming anxiety without medications implies making changes in one’s lifestyle, including dietary changes. Some foods are great for calming anxiety while others may make it worse, which means that choosing appropriate foods could drastically reduce the amount of anxiety one experiences.

Also, it can improve your mood and increase your well-being. In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the best foods for calming anxiety.

Foods that you should avoid

Some foods help calm anxiety but making sure you’re not eating foods that contribute to anxiety is just as important. A few examples of these types of foods are fried foods, carbohydrates with a high glycemic index, refined sugars and alcoholic beverages.

Other foods depend on the amount of anxiety you experience. If you have panic attacks, you might want to avoid coffee. This is true because coffee may increase your heart rate and unleash an attack.

But, if you have more general anxiety, coffee could be truly beneficial.  A lot of people find that caffeine (in small doses, of course), can truly reduce stress and improve moods. Therefore, for some, coffee can be an ally in calming anxiety, while for others, it is the opposite.

Seven foods that help calming anxiety

Whole grains

Individuals that tolerate gluten can benefit from whole grain foods, like whole grain pasta and bread.  Studies have shown that true whole grains (“whole foods” still contain some processed ingredients) can provide several benefits for individuals with anxiety.

  • Whole grains are rich in magnesium.  Magnesium deficiency could cause anxiety.
  • Whole grains contain tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin, a calming neurotransmitter.
  • Whole grains create healthy energy while also reducing hunger; both are important for reducing anxiety.

Whole foods can have a powerful effect on anxiety, and they contain nutrients that a lot of today’s diet don’t offer. Therefore, try to include them in your meals to feel healthier and calmer.

Seaweed

SeaweedSeaweed contains a lot of the same benefits as whole grains. It is rich in nutrients, and also seems to have a high magnesium content.  Seaweed and other algae appear to have high tryptophan content as well.  Seaweed is a good alternative for people who are sensitive to gluten and can’t eat whole grains.

You might also like: Reduce Anxiety with There 5 Calming Remedies

Blueberries

Blueberries are more than just a delicious fruit.  A lot of people consider them to be a superfood.  They are rich in vitamins and phytonutrients, with a variety of antioxidants that are considered very beneficial for relieving stress.

What is more, a lot of experts also believe that peaches fall under this category because they contain nutrients that seem to create a calming effect.

Açai berries

Açai berries are the newest superfood, and they have received a lot of recent press attention. It might not be the weight loss fruit that a lot of people claimed it was, but acai berries are just as rich in phytonutrients as blueberries, and they contain loads of antioxidants.

Almonds

Almonds

Almonds are an under-appreciated food. They contain zinc, a key nutrient for maintaining a balanced emotional state, and they have iron and healthy fats. Healthy fats are an important part of a balanced diet, and low iron levels have also been known to cause brain fatigue.  This could lead to anxiety and lack of energy.

Chocolate

Dark chocolate, especially pure chocolate without any added sugars or milk, is also a great food for individuals that live with anxiety and stress. Chocolate reduces cortisol, a stress hormone that causes anxiety symptoms. It also contains mood improving compounds.

Maca Root

Maca root powderMaca root isn’t exactly a popular food in supermarkets, but you can add its powder to several foods and beverages, which is found in a wide variety of health food stores.  

This root is believed to have more phytonutrients, such as magnesium and iron, than almost any other type of fruit or vegetable. These two nutrients are important for controlling anxiety. It is also frequently used for endurance and for healthy energy.

Read also: 7 Benefits of Maca Root for Women

Other foods for calming anxiety and stress

A healthy diet is one of the best ways to control anxiety and stress.  In fact, one of the best things you could add to your diet is more water. A lot of studies have found that dehydration affects at least 25% of individuals with persistent stress.  Dehydration also causes more anxiety.

In regards to foods, any food with magnesium, vitamin B12 (and other B group vitamins), zinc, and antioxidants, could be beneficial for helping fight stress. There are also herbal supplements, like kava and passionflower, that could be useful for anxiety.

Controlling anxiety with your diet

All of the foods mentioned in this article can help calm anxiety. They provide vitamins and nutrients that calm the mind and body, while increasing energy and putting you in a good mood. Combine these foods with a balanced diet, and avoid fried foods and harmful ingredients. You should see a marked difference in your anxiety levels.

Still, one should keep in mind that anxiety is something under our control. That’s why it’s important to reflect internally or see a specialist for better results. This is true especially if anxiety messes with your daily activities or life rhythm.

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  • Gonzales, G. F., Gonzales, C., & Gonzales-Castañeda, C. (2009). Lepidium meyenii (Maca): A plant from the highlands of peru – From tradition to science. Forschende Komplementarmedizin. https://doi.org/10.1159/000264618
  • Kim, J., & Wessling-Resnick, M. (2014). Iron and mechanisms of emotional behavior. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2014.07.003