Eating for Anxiety
Eating to manage your mood is a somewhat new idea. Our grandparents certainly didn't say, I'm feeling a little edgy today, I should have some potatoes, but there are a slew of nutritionists, therapists and chefs telling us to do exactly that. Unlike a lot of the food trends out there, it's extremely effective.
Over the years we've been fanatical about some fairly out there food trends, Cabbage-only diets to drop weight or the controversy over gluten-free or even at one time vegetarianism has divided many a table. Eating to manage your moods has scientific evidence supporting it and isn't controversial and won't split the family at Thanksgiving.
While we know that upping our b vitamins helps us manage stress, it's highly personal how we do that. For some of us nuts and whole grains are the perfect way because those things are already in our diets and we can just increase the amounts we're eating. For others, perhaps someone with gluten issues or who watches carbs, upping fish and egg intake makes more sense. The trick is to find what is both healthy and easy for you. If you hate greens, deciding you're going to eat kale every day probably isn't going to be very effective. Don't set yourself up for failure, it will ultimately increase feelings of anxiety and stress.
The key to managing anxiety, whether dealing with food, tipping our chemistry or being mindful is to do what you know to be effective for you. Mostly importantly do what you know to do. Don't worry about what you don't know. If eating a lot of carbs when you're feeling tense is helpful for you, just do that. When you're in the moment of high emotion don't google anything, just do what you know to do.
And speaking of googling, there is a lot of misinformation out there, even in fairly reputable sources. Listening to your body and finding what works for you by trail and error is the most effective way to eat for anxiety.
A lot of articles out there that will tell you eat this, not that, but the real answer is awareness. Being aware of exactly how you're feeling so you can determine what's going to help is one part. Being aware enough to know if the food you're adding or increasing is actually helpful is another part. Still a third part requires that you take a #yogabreak and listen.
Close your eyes and do a body scan. Start at the top of your head. notice how you're feeling physically. Because the achy cranky places already demand a lot of our attention, don't linger there. Just notice. Don't judge. Notice how you're feeling. Breathe deeply from the belly. Then gently move your attention to your heart space and notice how you're feeling emotionally. Don't worry if you can't name the emotion, just be present with it. Again, remember to breathe deeply. Then gently move your attention to notice how you're feeling mentally. Notice how the thoughts are moving through your brain and notice the quality of your thoughts.
Being present with how you're feeling physically, emotionally and mentally will help you make decisions about food and
When thinking about foods that manage your moods, start here. The practice always starts with awareness, whether you're on the mat or off.