Whether you anxious for a specific reason, or just a vague feeling, you can help yourself by checking your daily intake of everyday items as they can make anxiety worse.
1 Watch what you drink
Having a high fluid intake is good and healthy, but it depends on where its coming from. Fruit juice for instance can have a high sugar level and make you more hyper, not something you want when feeling anxious. Eating whole fruit is different: you get the liquid but the fibre from the fruit fills you up and slows down how your blood takes in energy. Without that fibre, you’re just drinking nutritious sugar-water and that can leave you hungry and angry — “hangry.”
That won’t help anxiety and depression so eat your fruit whole and when you are thirsty drink plain water.
Fizzy Soft Drinks these have all of the blood-spiking sugar of fruit juice with none of the nutrition. Sugar-sweetened drinks like soda have a direct link to depression, too. If you crave that fizz, and I know I do, then try soda water with a splash of juice or lime or elderflower cordial instead. It’ll give you a bubbly fix without too much of the stuff you don’t need.
Diet Drinks I have written about these as being a problem for many years but many women are convinced they will help them lose weight. Not only does that not happen but diet soft drinks may make you depressed. In fact, it could make you feel more down than its sugary cousin would. Too much of the caffeine that many such drinks have can be bad for anxiety, too.
Coffee If you’re not used to it, the caffeine in it can make you jittery and nervous. It could also mess up your sleep. Neither helps anxiety or depression.
Caffeine withdrawal can make you feel bad, too. If you think it causes you problems, cut caffeine out of your diet slowly. If you’re OK with it, or drink decaf, coffee can actually help make you feel less depressed.
Energy Drinks They are attractive if you feel the need for a quick ‘fix’ but they can cause weird heart rhythms, anxiety, and sleep issues. That’s because it’s not always easy to know the sky-high caffeine levels hidden in ingredients like guarana.
These often have loads of sugar or artificial sweeteners, too so back to water if you’re thirsty and if it’s the sugar you crave then eat a piece of fruit instead.
Alcohol People do reach for a drink to calm them down, and certainly a drink could calm your nerves and make you more sociable. That can be good for your mental health, but even a little can mess up your sleep.
Not enough rest can raise anxiety and cause depression and too much sleep (if you drink a lot) can cause even more problems. The key is dosage and for women that is one drink a day.
Let me clarify this, the danger here is from white bread. The highly processed white flour it’s made from quickly turns to blood sugar after you eat it. That can cause energy spikes and crashes that can be bad for anxiety and depression.
You can have your toast – and eat it, too – just use whole-grain bread not white.
3 Dressings and sauces
The issue here is that so many of these contain sugar, often listed as “high-fructose corn syrup.” But are you safer with “light” or “sugar-free” dressings?
Sadly no, as many get their sweetness from aspartame, an artificial sweetener linked to anxiety and depression. Check the ingredients or, better yet, make your dressing at home from scratch.
Ketchup It’s a favourite sauce, and as it is mostly tomatoes, it must be healthy? Well, no because again it contains sugar, lots of sugar. Four grams per tablespoon, to be exact.
If you see the label “light” that usually means it will have artificial sweeteners that could be linked to anxiety and depression.
It’s not just the sugar that is problem. Many such sauces are also loaded with around 2 grams of “trans fats” per serving and they have been linked to depression.
Sometimes called “partially hydrogenated oils,” they’re also in fried foods, pizza dough, cakes, biscuits and crackers. Check your labels and if you do eat fat, make it the “good” kind you get from foods like fish, olive oil, nuts, and avocado as these can actually help lift your mood.
Soy Sauce is best restricted if you are sensitive to gluten. In addition to breads, noodles, and pastries, it’s also in prepackaged foods like soy sauce.
If you’re sensitive to gluten, it can cause anxiety or depression. It can also make you feel sluggish and not at your best. Check labels and try to steer clear.
4 Processed Foods
If you eat lots of processed meat, fried food, refined cereals, sweets, pastries, and high-fat dairy products, you’re more likely to be anxious and depressed.
A diet full of whole fibre-rich grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish can help keep you on a more even keel.
It may not seem fair to single out doughnuts, because we all like to have a treat now and then and indeed such treats can help lift our mood.
But doughnuts have all the wrong kinds of fats, snow-white flour with little fibre to slow absorption, and lots of added sugar. So, if you must, make them a treat, not a routine.
Many women can link their anxiety to hormonal mood swings so getting the right balance can really help. Progesterone is a natural relaxant and helps many women with anxiety, but if your symptoms are more severe then you may need a combined cream of both progesterone and oestrogen to help lift your mood.