Health and Nutrition During the Holidays
The holidays are right around the corner which means increased time with loved ones, the potential increase in feelings of loneliness or isolation from others, and often an increase of negative mental health symptoms. Health and Nutrition are key areas to focus on in Mental Health Recovery, especially when it comes to the holidays. Food intake is directly related to our mood regulation. Below is information on foods to indulge in and foods to avoid when regulating symptoms of anxiety.
Foods To Eat When Struggling with Anxiety
Foods that increase feelings of calm are helpful for living with anxiety:
Protein: Protein helps the brain to regulate itself and often contains amino acids that produce neurotransmitters, which help to decrease negative symptoms of depression and anxiety. Protein also helps to slow the release of sugar into the blood stream, which leads to decreased irritability, tiredness, and consistent energy levels.
Tryptophan: Tryptophan is a vitamin that produces sleep inducing chemicals, which is primarily found in turkey. That chemical is why you often get sleepy after indulging in Thanksgiving dinner! Tryptophan can help to calm the hyper energy of anxiety disorders. Some studies have even found a correlation between high levels of tryptophan and improved mood, decreased aggression, and dominant behavior.
Probiotics: The mind-body connection is one that cannot be ignored! A happy gut means a happy brain. Gut bacteria interacts with mood and cognitive functioning, which are important pieces to managing anxiety and depression. Experts believe that probiotics play a crucial role in producing neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which can positively impact mood, regulate sleep, and reduce inflammation.
Foods to Avoid When Struggling with Anxiety
Avoiding foods that over stimulate the body and brain will help to decrease anxiety. Unfortunately, anxiety can cause cravings for the exact kinds of foods that lead to feelings of anxiety. It is important to avoid emotional eating as a form of numbing to self soothe for anxiety. Instead try turning to yoga, breathwork, or meditation!
Sugary Sweets: Any kind of extra sugar in your diet will add fuel to the fire of an anxious mind. Eating sugar rich food excites the mind and makes it more difficult to regulate mood and emotion. Additionally, sugary foods cause your blood sugar to spike up and drop down rather quickly, which can cause our mood to sour and our anxiety levels to spike.
Caffeinated Beverages: Caffeine, much like sugar, is a stimulant which can result in an abundance of nervous energy, which then causes more nervous energy. Be sure to be extra weary of any beverages that mix high amounts of caffeine with high amounts of sugar.
Alcohol: Alcohol is often a given at family gatherings. However, you may want to think twice before using alcohol to take the edge off! Alcohol not only creates sugar in the blood stream but is also often mixed with high sugar beverages, simple syrups, etc. These high amounts of sugar often lead to irritable mood and increased feelings of stress and anxiety. Some studies are finding that long term alcohol use is associated with a decrease of serotonin which can lead to depression and anxiety.