Foods that trigger anxiety

We’ve all experienced feelings of anxiety at one time or another; and as much as we want to believe that a bowl of ice cream will make it all go away — it doesn’t.

It’s normal to experience occasional anxiety, especially when we are living in uncertain times. But the good news is that it is absolutely possible to reduce occasional or mild anxiety, by discovering what foods cause anxiety and how eliminating those foods can greatly reduce your symptoms.

Registered dietitian and author of Naturally Nourished, Ali Miller, RD says that “While food may not be the main cause of these feelings, it can certainly affect their severity and how often they occur.”

And one of the biggest offenders is refined sugar.

It’s no secret that processed sugar wrecks havoc on your body; but it also affects your mental health too. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the rush of sugar leads to sugar highs, giving you lots of energy, but then the lows make you feel sluggish and down. Instead of sugar opt for Stevia which is 200 times sweeter than sugar and won’t affect your blood sugar levels.

And speaking of sugar, America’s favorite diet soft drinks are loaded with artificial food coloring and additives including the dangerous aspartame. In addition to blocking the production of serotonin (the feel good hormone) in your brain, aspartame is also responsible for; headaches, weight gain, insomnia, mood swings and certain forms of cancer. Instead of diet soda opt out for calorie free, organically flavored sparkling water like SanaVi or Poland Springs.

Partially hydrogenated oils commonly found in dairy creamers and other ultra processed foods such as French fries, cookies, doughnuts and cheese sticks; have been linked to impaired blood flow to the brain. Numerous studies published in PLoS ONE have linked these fats to depression, anxiety and other mental issues. Personally, I have to have a creamer in my coffee so I use Laird’s Superfood Creamer and Califia Farms: which are both affordable, healthy alternatives.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – commonly found in condiments and salad dressing causes anxiety, depression and cognitive decline according to numerous research articles published in The Journal of Pharmacology. HFCS which is more lethal than table sugar causes anxiety inducing spikes and drops in blood sugar and weight gain. Condiments such as; Annie’s Natural Organic salad dressing and ketchup and Newman’s Own are HFCS free and can be found at many grocery stores.

Gluten, the protein found in wheat and rye products can also be a huge trigger for anxiety symptoms. Research has confirmed that gluten intolerant people are at a higher risk for anxiety, depression and mood disorders. Cutting out gluten containing products like bread and pasta could be the difference between living with anxiety or not.

Consider trying some science backed mood boosting foods to your diet that are rich in; magnesium, tryptophan, vitamin B, omega 3, vitamin e and zinc. Dark chocolate containing at least 74% cacao may also be helpful for easing anxiety. Trader Joe’s makes an affordable dark chocolate bar that is quite addictive.

Reach Mary Schoepe at

Johnson Newspapers 7.1


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