Anxiety certainly can spike around the holidays. But for 40 million adults, living with anxiety is a year-round problem. In fact, anxiety is the most common form of mental illness.
And no wonder…
Today’s world is a stressful place. We hear a daily drumbeat of doomsday predictions. From climate change…to the collapse of civility, culture and civilization…to the very real threat of nuclear engagement from a long-neglected North Korea.
Aside from these external threats, we also face difficult changes as we age, including health issues, financial challenges, as well as the loss of family, friends and even pets. It’s enough to make more and more of us feel jittery and unsettled a lot of the time.
Of course, feeling anxious can affect your eating habits. Many people look to food for comfort or reassurance. But, conversely, your food choices can also affect your mood and cause anxiety.
So, today, let’s look at four simple steps you can take to change your diet and reduce your anxiety.
- Cut the artificial and refined sugars
Most people realize by now that added sugar wreaks havoc on your metabolism. But it also affects your brain and emotions.
Specifically, sugar causes the “rollercoaster” effect of spiking and plunging energy, which activates the sympathetic nervous system, creating anxiety and nervousness. (Note that fructose found naturally in fruit does not cause these effects.)
As always, I advise avoiding the artificial and refined sugar found in baked goods and confections, such as candies, cookies and cakes. Also, watch out for the sugar hidden in bottled, canned, packaged, and processed foods that manufacturers sneak in to make their products taste “better.”
In addition, beware of foods that masquerade as “healthy,” but contain loads of sugar. For example, a five-ounce serving of Dannon yogurt with fruit-on-the-bottom contains about 24 grams of sugar (about 5 teaspoons).
(For more information about what to avoid in order to prevent and reverse Type II diabetes, stay tuned for my brand-new protocol, Integrative Protocol for Defeating Diabetes, which is set for release later this month.)
- Set limits on caffeine
As I often advise, drinking three to four cups coffee daily benefits your body and mind. But you can overdue it.
Remember, green and black tea naturally contain caffeine, as does yerba mate tea. And you should always avoid dangerous and caffeinated “energy drinks,” “soft drinks,” and pseudo-natural “herbal” concoctions. Drinking these beverages, in addition to coffee, can contribute to nervousness and irritability.
So, if you’re looking for something tasty to drink later in the day, try a natural, caffeine-free and calming herbal tea or infusion — such as chamomile, ginger, lemon, mint, or rooibos (also known as red bush or aspal).
- Watch the wheat
Some people find they feel more anxious after eating gluten, a protein found in wheat. But as I explained last October, the problem of gluten has been overstated.
The real problem with wheat stems from its exposure to chemicals. In fact, most of the wheat grown in the U.S. today is genetically modified to withstand exposure to glyphosate (Roundup). And many researchers now think skyrocketing rates of gluten sensitivity and intolerance stem from the application of glyphosate on wheat. So — what people once thought was a gluten sensitivity is probably really a pesticide sensitivity.
(An FDA-registered food safety laboratory recently tested the U.S. food supply for residues of glyphosate. And they even found glyphosate residue on organic wheat products because pesticides spread from neighboring commercial farms.)
If eating even organic wheat seems to make you anxious, I suggest cutting out all wheat and observing how you feel.
- Add whole foods back into your diet
Without a doubt, the foods you eat affect your mood. And adding certain whole foods, rich in key nutrients, can help improve your mood. I suggest filling your holiday table with these delicious, whole foods:
–Asparagus (for B vitamins for brain and mind balance)
–Avocados (B vitamins and potassium electrolyte)
–Blueberries (with both short- and long-term cognitive benefits)
–Fish (omega-3 fatty acids, minerals)
–Grass-fed beef (B vitamins and minerals)
–Nuts (essential fatty acids, minerals)
–Oranges (vitamins B and C)
–Turkey (supports natural neurochemical levels)
Just thinking about the upcoming holiday can make a lot of people anxious. So, during the festivities, put another slice of beef rib roast or roast turkey on your plate. Or make a salad with plenty of nuts and sliced oranges on top. (These two toppings are also traditional holiday treats.)
All in all, be mindful of what you eat and drink. What you use to nourish your body and your mind can help you manage the stress of the holiday season (and well beyond).
- “Foods that hurt, or help if you’re feeling anxious,” NYCitywoman (www.nycitywoman.com)