Keep an even keel with carbohydrates.
- Whole grains and complex carbohydrates found in foods like whole wheat bread, whole grain pastas, brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal not only help keep your energy level stable (and that plays a large role in anxiety, but are also high in B vitamins. Deficiency in some B vitamins can serve as a trigger for mood disorders in certain individuals, so you’re better off keeping your bases covered with good sources of B vitamins.
- Avoid candy and simple, processed sugars– it gives a quick surge of energy, but then leaves you tired and low. The good news is that dark chocolate is actually beneficial in small doses as it contains some tryptophan, and also contains other components that improve mood.
- Tryptophan-rich foods such as poultry, cheese, nuts and seeds contain a precursor to serotonin – the neurotransmitter that keeps you feeling calm.
- Beef, dried beans, nuts and eggs are also high in B vitamins and will help avoid the mood pitfalls of deficiency.
- Greek Yogurt and other high protein foods cause the brain to produce norepinephrine and dopamine. These are neurotransmitters that help boost mood, and improve mental alertness and reaction time.
- Salmon and other fatty fish provide omega-3 fatty acids that have been linked to improvements with depression, plus they keep your heart healthy as well.
Avoid caffeine as it interferes with your body’s natural serotonin production and alcohol since it acts as a depressant.
Don’t underestimate the power of your attitude about food. Fear and guilt sell and the dieting industry is cashing in at the expense of not only our physical but mental health. Food is food. It is designed to be savored and enjoyed. So keep mealtimes regular, pleasant and free from guilt or judgment.
The take home message is that a delicious and enjoyable diet balanced with complex carbohydrates, high quality protein foods and heart-healthy fats will help keep your mood level and anxiety at bay.