Nutrition for Anxiety Management

For those who suffer from anxiety know the symptoms can be quite overwhelming. Along with Cognitive Behavior Therapy and possible pharmacologic interventions, nutrition can play an important role in anxiety management.

First and foremost, try and consume the right amount of calories. Too many or too little calories can increase anxiety symptoms. Practice mindfulness along with becoming in tune with hunger and fullness ques to work towards finding your calorie zone. 

Research has shown specific nutrients in foods can aid in anxiety reduction.  These anxiety reducing nutrients include Anti-Oxidants, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Magnesium, B-Vitamins and Probiotics.

  • Anti-Oxidant rich foods include berries, nuts, beans, spinach, kale, dark chocolate, tumeric, ginger
  • Omega- 3 Fatty Acid rich foods include salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, tuna, hemp seeds, egg yolk
  • Magnesium rich foods include spinach, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole-grains
  • B-Vitamin rich foods include avocadoes, almonds, grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, eggs, dairy, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, beans
  • Probiotic rich foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles

In addition, complex carbohydrates can help stabilize blood sugars making you feel calmer.  Reduce intake of processed foods and increase quality protein along with healthy fats. Sugar in processed foods can alter energy levels from blood sugar highs and lows causing mood swings, nervousness and fatigue.  I encourage a balanced diet which includes whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.  Incorporating all of these feel good nutrients decreases overall anxiety.

Keeping hydrated with drinking enough water throughout the day is also key to prevent mild dehydration. Do not skip meals, this may also cause blood sugar drops. If possible, eat at least 3 balanced meals per day and small snacks if needed that include a protein and complex carbohydrate.  Some good snack examples include cheese stick with multi-grain crackers, ¼ cup raw trail mix, or peanut butter and an apple. This will help keep your blood sugar stable and prevent any jitters that may worsen anxiety.  Limit caffeine consumption and preferably only consume in the morning before 8am or in between 9-11:30 when there’s a dip in your body’s natural cortisol (stress hormone).  

  • Proteins: Grass-Fed Meat, Wild Caught Fish, Pasture Raised Chicken/Turkey, Eggs, Beans, Nuts, Dairy
  • Healthy Fats:  Avocadoes, Avocado/Olive/Sunflower/Coconut Oil, Olives, Nuts, Seeds, Eggs, Grass-Fed Butter
  • Complex Carbohydrates: Oats, Whole Wheat or Whole Grain bread/cereal/pasta/tortillas, Brown/Wild rice, Beans, Fruits and Vegetables

These simple diet modifications can help make a difference in your mood and overall well-being.  Lifestyle modifications can also help ease anxiety symptoms and help you feel your best. Regular physical activity can increase energy levels and boost confidence.  Stress management such as meditation or engaging in your favorite hobby can make you feel more relaxed and ease tension. Increase social support by surrounding yourself with family, friends and community members. Improve sleep habits and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.  This can also help with anxiety management by giving your body time to re-coop by balancing hormones and decrease fatigue.