What does food have to do with anxiety you ask?? You’d be surprised just how much. The topic of nutrition is pretty massive so I am going to touch on just a few things here and open up discussion for more! In this post I want to go over some of the information we know about food, mostly the ingredients, and its potential toxic effect on our bodies.
According to Harvard Health “Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.” Despite this people continue to eat the standard American diet.
“It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet”, Margaret Mead
As an initial first step in learning about nutrition and potentially making changes, I ask my clients to spend some time (at least 3-5 days) noticing what they eat and drink. Writing it down can help keep you honest and provide accurate details over the course of time. Then you can see exactly what was consumed instead of just guessing (most of us underestimate our potions and even what was actually consumed).
How much processed food and drink are you consuming over those days? How much dairy are you consuming? What about sugar? That is a great place to start. Just an honest assessment of what is being consumed and then begin to make very small manageable changes and sticking with each change for 15-30 days before adding another one.
I’ve created a list of some items you’ll want to begin to get rid of and look for opportunities to replace them with whole foods. Of course you make sure you run this by your physician as this is for informational purposes only.
Foods to Reduce, Towards Elimination
- Processed Foods (anything in a box, package, bag, can, container, etc)
- Products Containing High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Sugar (cookies, pastries, cereal, yogurts, drinks, condiments, etc)
- Refined Carbohydrates/Grains (white flour, pastries, pretzels, etc)
High fructose corn syrup is found in a lot of items on the grocery store shelves. It’s not known to be any worse than sugar itself, but neither one are “good” for your overall health. This can be found in obvious things like candy and soda. It can also be found in the not so obvious places like bread, granola bars, and yogurt, read the labels every time!
Take a deep dive and learn the 56 different types of sugars and what those mean for you health, I recommend checking out Healthline’s article: The 56 Names of Sugar. That article will detail which sugars are healthier alternatives and which ones you’ll want to try and stay away from if possible. Refined carbohydrates refer to sugars or grains that are lacking essential nutrients. Some examples of these foods include bread, pasta, sugary drinks (juice and soda), cereal, white flour and white rice.
Additives + Preservatives
There are many things that are wrong with food additives and preservatives. The biggest problem I have is that other countries have banned several of the ingredients that are still being allowed in the U.S. It’s scary to know that several food colorings have been linked to cancer and are still being used and fed to our children. The color has nothing to do with the nutritional value of the food or the taste or anything, it’s just an unnecessary additive. Currently the FDA still recognizes food coloring as “safe”.
According to Food Matters, Aspartame may lead to increased anxiety. If you’re someone who suffers with anxiety, make sure you check the label on what you’re eating or drinking to ensure you’re not enhancing your symptoms.
They even make note of an additive called Propyl Paraben that has been shown to cause infertility in women and accelerate the growth of breast cancer cells. You can read the full list of side effects and precautions by clicking here.
Foods to Eat
I know that when you go to read the labels on your favorite items in your pantry, you’ll be surprised to find sugar is in almost everything, including your salad dressings and soups. Who would have known? But reading labels is literally one of the most important things you can do for your health.
This is why filling up on loads of vegetables all day long helps because it will reduce the amount of these types of foods you are consuming. Instead of pretzels, try apple slices with peanut butter. How about cucumber slices and hummus, or guacamole.
You can shop at your local farmer’s market to get locally grown produce at a cheaper price. Make sure, if an option is available, that you choose organic. This is because the products that are grown without the extra chemicals and pesticides is going to be your best option. Clearly there’s no good marketing techniques available to make the words chemicals and pesticides sound super attractive so they just leave that part out.
Same goes for the animal products. You want to look for grass fed, antibiotic free, organic, cage-free and if you can find local products to support your farmers that’s even better.
Buying seafood fresh at the supermarket can get quite tricky. There are many factors depending on where you live and what type of fish you’re wanting (frozen, fresh, etc.). For a complete list of helpful tips on how to buy the right kind of fish at your local market visit The Spruce Eats.
If you’re having beef, check the label for “grass-fed”. If you’re choosing to eat cattle, you want their diet to contain what it has always been instead of fillers and grain. When a cow eats the grain, it makes the cow fat. Unfortunately, a cow cannot withstand a diet long-term with eating grain as it’s not normal, so the animal is sent off for consumer packaging before it dies.
You don’t want to eat something that has been given hormones or it’s irregular diet because you’ll be ingesting irregular hormones and toxins as well. Long term that can be detrimental to your overall health.
Your focus needs to be as Michael Pollan says, “Eat real food, mostly plants, not to much”. Real food, not food like substances that we so often find in our supermarkets.
In addition to looking at our food, make sure you’re drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day to keep your kidneys functioning properly and flush out the toxins. I say strive for a gallon a day.
Let me know if you have any questions about any of that information by commenting below. You can also join me for weekly updates by clicking here. I look forward to talking with you all very soon. Thanks for stopping by!