Food and Anxiety – Can a Change in Diet Really help?

I don’t claim to be an expert on matters of food and nutrition. In fact, I’m not an expert at all. I don’t have any certificates or degrees in nutrition and I’m most certainly not a doctor.

If there’s anything I’ve come to understand over the years, however (and I’m talking on a personal level here), it’s that food can have a massive impact on the way I not just feel but think too. But the whole conversation around how you are what you eat isn’t anything new.

How many times have we been told to cut down on unhealthy saturated fats and up our intake of fruits and veggies, alongside countless other advice? Lots of times. There certainly can be a lot of conflicting advice. This can lead to total confusion if you listen to everyone and try to implement everything they say.

But the foundation of the message is ultimately the same. Stop eating so much cr*p because it does you no good and can contribute to a range of chronic diseases*.

The thing is, it can often be easy to listen to and read about the reasons why we *should* change our diet to a more healthy one but not actually do it for whatever reason. I’ve done this myself.

Over the past few years, what I’ve come to discover is the direct correlation between what happens in my gut, for example, and how I feel overall. When it feels off balance like it’s struggling to digest foods, I can end up feeling more lethargic and my head doesn’t always feel as clear.

And I came to realise that just by taking more notice of what my body was doing and how it felt when I ate.

But what about anxiety and how can food possibly help anyone who suffers from it?

I came across an article on the BBC news website. It talks about food and how it can help to improve people’s mental health. This was demonstrated on a documentary called Doctor in the House that currently airs weekly on BBC one. In one episode, Dr Rangan Chatterjee helped a 19 year old who suffered from anxiety and panic attacks that were quite severe.

Her diet before he arrived was full of highly processed foods and laden with sugar. But by helping and guiding her to make healthier food choices, she eventually experienced an improvement in her anxiety and mood. And because of the positive changes she’s experienced, she’s sticking with the healthier options. Good for her!

Of course and as it states in that article, there are many factors to consider when it comes to mental health and it wouldn’t be wise to make any definitive changes without consulting a healthcare professional first.

While The Confidence Haven isn’t aimed at being a place for women who suffer from ongoing and severe anxiety attacks, I felt it important to mention as a reminder and example for us of the power of food. Even the Mental Health Organisation talks about what a healthy change in diet can do for a person’s mental health, so it really is a big deal and something we shouldn’t ignore.

So, how’s your diet and do you think there’s room for improvement?  If so, do whatever research necessary to ensure any changes you make are the right ones for you and again, depending on your individual situation, you may need to talk to a qualified professional first.

* http://www.who.int/topics/diet/en/

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