The cliché in healthy eating is “you get out what you put in.” But have you ever considered the effects that food can have on your mental health?
I’m good at spotting patterns and over the years I have been getting better at utilizing this strength to gain awareness of what causes my anxiety. I want to share with you a few of the top insights I’ve gained into how healthy eating reduced my anxiety.
1. Cut the coffee:
The first culprit was coffee.
There were days when I was working away in a coffee shop, super-focused and uber-productive, but shaking uncontrollably, left feeling far too worked up and anxious for this to be a sustainable drive or to be healthy. I started to notice how on edge I was when hopped up on caffeine. How I struggled to get to sleep, which only worsened my anxiety and left me feeling the weight of the World and all of my perceived problems starting to crush me. This seems to be a coffee issue for me.
Green tea? I’m good!
2. Set aside the sugar:
Second, is the almighty sugar.
This stuff is everywhere! It’s honestly really hard to cut out all sugar and it takes a lot of time and practice to start to break things down and identify where sugar is hidden. But this is the second biggest contributor to my anxiety fueled through “food” and I’m so glad I’ve cut out the majority of it. If you’re looking for a sign, this is it – please stop drinking pop or juice.
3. Pick a plant-based lifestyle:
The third, and most controversial, is animal products.
I had a thought one day, wondering if the terror and anxiety felt by animals who are put through the modern practices of factory farming can somehow change the products made from that animal and somehow pass it on to the consumer. Is it possible that a chicken feeling anxious at its time of death can contribute to my own anxiety when I eat it?
This was right at the start of my journey as a vegan, so I started to keep my awareness towards my anxiety levels and the changes in my diet. Now, yes, I know this is somewhat astray from the scientific method, but my own experience seemed to show a possibility of truth in that thought. By no means is this the main (or only) reason why I’m vegan, but it was definitely an added bonus from the transition.
My Advice: Look for the patterns
Try to set your awareness to start to see the patterns in your own life. Are there any foods that you always seem to feel horrible after eating? Do you get overly jittery from your coffee and have your anxiety flare up? What are the foods that cause negative feelings, energy or reactions in your body? I’d say it’s time to finally cut those out.
A word of caution:
Before you go trying to cut yourself off all of these cold-turkey, allow me to first warn you. The withdrawals can be horrible and make you go crawling back to the candy bar or the closest coffee shop on the corner. We can easily become just as addicted to these substances as the ones that are controlled and considered criminal. But stick with it and push through the lows and you’ll come out the other side feeling like a new person.