Approximately 40 million American adults suffered from an anxiety disorder last year. Are you one of these people? Even if you have not been officially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, does worry and anxiety cause you to grab that bag of chips or cookies for comfort? Clearly, you are not alone if this is the case. When I am busy working with clients, organizing schedules, or being a mom and transporting kids here there and everywhere, it can be quite challenging to come home and NOT dive into something sweet and comforting. We all use food as a source of reward or comfort at times. But there are things we can do to keep anxiety at bay, including being more conscious of the foods we eat. Below is a list
of a few things I have tried that can help ease anxiety and keep you from eating that entire tub of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream!
• Reduce or eliminate your consumption of caffeine. This is kind of a no brainer when you consider that caffeine triggers an adrenaline response similar to anxiety. Remember that caffeine is in more than just coffee. You can also find caffeine in food items such as black teas and chocolate.
• Reduce or eliminate your consumption of alcohol. Initially alcohol may give you that mellow relaxed feeling, however long term it excites the fight or flight part of your brain and brings about dreaded feelings of stress and anxiety. Reducing the amount of alcohol you consume will help to sustain an anxiety-free lifestyle.
• Reduce or eliminate processed sugary foods. Processed foods are terrible for so many reasons, so why not just add anxiety to the list! Processed sugary foods raises our blood sugar quickly and then sets us up for a huge blood sugar crash shortly afterwards. All of this havoc on our body causes stress, inflammation, and ultimately more anxiety. No processed foods please!
• Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate - drinking water and hydrating your body keeps your cells working optimally. Less headaches, dehydration, irritation, and yes - less anxiety! Hydrate consistently throughout your day, and not in one go just to play catch up.
• Sleep and more sleep - sleep allows all parts of our body to rest, reducing our stress hormones so we are better able to cope. Sleep recommendation 7-8 hours every night.
• Exercise and deep breathing - moving our bodies, in any form of exercise that we prefer, as well as taking deep breaths throughout the day brings oxygen into our cells and helps to eliminate carbon dioxide (CO2). Exercise releases endorphins, the feel good hormones, that are secreted by the pituitary gland, which gives us a sense of well being and helps to alleviate stress and anxiety.
• Eat your veggies - veggies to me are a cure all. Supplying us with so many vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and fiber. If we increase the amount of vegetables we eat each day, we will crowd out a lot of the other junk food. You can't go wrong with eating vegetables. Don't worry...eat your veggies!
Anxiety is a part of life, but when it starts to feel all consuming and you're reaching for food to comfort yourself rather than to nourish your body, keep these tips in mind. Be gentle with yourself, and remember, you are the best person to take care of you.
In the comments below let me know how else you take care of yourself during times of stress and anxiety. Here's to you, wishing you lots of love and laughter.