During this unsettling anxious period, it’s essential to keep our mental health in check by nourishing our bodies and minds with all things good and green. While reaching for your go-to sugar bomb is easy right now from home (Hellllllllo Freddo); unfortunately, it’s not going to help you in the long run.
Accredited Nutritionist and Remedy Ambassador Jacqueline Alwill shares what you should be eating, drinking and doing to help ease your anxiety.
What To Eat And Drink When You’re Feeling Anxious
1. Breathe before mealtimes
“Take the time before each meal to stop and breathe, just enough time for three deep diaphragmatic breaths. In through your nose, deep into your gut, observing the rise and fall of your belly and ribs. Oxygenating your digestive system, expanding and releasing the tightness that you may feel through the chest throughout the day or leading up to your meal and most important to help the body switch off the sympathetic ‘flight or fight’ nervous system and allow the parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ nervous system to take the front seat.
When we are stressed or anxious, we don’t firstly enjoy the meal, and our bodies being in sympathetic mode means we don’t digest it well. Taking these three big breaths before eating eases our body into a more restful state to enjoy and digest our meal.”
2. Eat the rainbow
Eat a balanced diet and incorporate foods high in tryptophan, magnesium, omega-3 and vitamin-E & D. Say what? Here’s how.
“Tryptophan is needed to make serotonin, which regulates your mood and cannot be produced in the human body alone. Incorporate tryptophan-containing foods into your diet may ease anxiety, foods such as oats, cottage cheese, turkey, eggs, bananas and tofu are high in tryptophan. Magnesium is a mineral that assists muscles and nerves in relaxing. Foods rich in magnesium are leafy greens such as spinach, swiss chard. Also legumes, avocado and brown rice are high too. Omega-3 is another great one to boost, make Salmon, mackerel, sardines and eggs your go-to to up your omega-3 intake. Lastly, load up on nuts such as pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts and almonds, a handful a day is a great start.”
3. Drink the good stuff
“Keep hydrated with water by drinking at least 2-3 litres throughout the day. Enjoy a fermented beverage at mealtime, such as Remedy Kombucha Ginger Lemon or Remedy Coconut Water Kefir – a study found enjoying fermented foods and drinks may help calm social anxiety. At night time, opt for a calming tea such as chamomile to help put your nervous system into rest mode.”
4. Don’t mix food with emotions
“Eating when emotional then creates an emotionally complicated relationship with your food – don’t use it as your crutch. Emotional eating creates issues far more significant than what you were dealing with, perhaps when you opened the fridge door or block of chocolate.
Try working with breath before leaning on food. Or try going for a walk, putting your feet up against the wall, having a cold shower or jumping in the ocean, cuddling your partner, brother, sister, best friend, dog or jumping into bed and have a big ugly cry, but please, don’t make food your counsel. Whether eating it or starving yourself from it, trying to resolve temporary issues or emotions with food only creates a damaged connection with it and your health long term.”
5. Self-isolate from refined sugar
The most recent stats from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show shockingly, Aussies on average consume 14 teaspoons of white sugar a day. Yup, we’re all hooked, and it’s causing havoc on your mental health. Be mindful of your emotions when as going cold turkey can be tricky but well worth it.
“People often see the results far sooner than they think – clearer skin, increased energy levels, weight loss and mental clarity are a few benefits worth mentioning to help you muster up the motivation to reduce your sugar intake.”
“Tune in to your body and trust your gut. Gut instinct will guide you well on your journey to good health. Commonly anxiety can make your gut churn when you are emotional; this is your body telling you to calm yourself before you consider sitting down to eat. Don’t ignore the signals your gut and your body offer you, tune in, be trusting in what your body says, create awareness, peace and mindfulness around every nourishing moment with your food.”
“If you’re feeling anxious, do your best to reduce or remove caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar foods from your diet. Speak with your doctor or nutritionist if you are heavily reliant on any of these foods to ensure you have a personalised plan to help transition you off these without raising your anxiety with withdrawals.”