Diet Tips for Anxiety

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Anxiety can manifest itself in a variety of ways, and for a variety of reasons.Thankfully, there are simple diet changes and additions you can try, that could be helpful.

Coffee or other highly caffeinated beverages can be correlated with anxiety triggers.

To determine if caffeine is worsening your anxiety symptoms, 3-4 weeks of no caffeine is recommended to evaluate if there are any improvements. For the coffee lovers, this can transition can be easier with gradually tapering by 50% every 4-7 days. Gradually reducing caffeine instead of going cold turkey can also help prevent withdrawal headaches.

Another possible culprit of anxiety exacerbation is sugar. Not to fear - cutting out sugar entirely may not be necessary. Instead focus on when and how much you consume sugar in one sitting. Reactive hypoglycemia can occur when blood sugar levels drop below a normal range 2-5 hours after eating. This may be the case if you find your symptoms worsen between meals, such as during a mid-morning slump. Consuming high amounts of sugar or carbs at one time, especially on an empty stomach, can increase your risk of a larger drop in blood sugar. To maintain a steadier blood sugar level, spread your sugar and carbs evenly throughout the day, and consume them with other foods, such as a source protein or a vegetable.

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Some great alternatives to a high-sugar snack are yogurt with almonds and berries, apple and a nut butter, or veggies and hummus. This isn’t to say to never have fun and tasty snacks or meals. But if on occasion when you are going to have a donut, have a side of scrambled eggs. If you’re going to have some chips, have a serving with your lunch. Taking it a step further, consider the type of carbs you eat during your day. A great goal is to have half of your carbs come from whole grains, such as (but not limited to) oatmeal, whole wheat flour products, brown rice, and quinoa. Then look at your sugar intake and aim to limit your intake to be 10% or less of your calories each day.

So, before clicking on the next Keto-Friendly recipe that comes across your screen, read those ingredients carefully. Some recipes do prioritize unsaturated fats or Omega-3s, while others hide behind the mask of “low carb,” to appear healthy.

Quality of and having sufficient protein sources are also important consideations. This includes a wide range from lean poultry, lean beef, eggs, legumes, seeds, and soy products. Sufficient protein isn’t referring to eating your protein in one sitting as a 14 oz strip steak, but rather, portioned throughout your daily meals. The Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein is 0.36 g per pound of body weight each day.

While these diet modifications may not work for all anxiety, trying them in your diet may prove to be an important part of your anxiety management.


  1. Krause’s Food & The Nutrition Care Process
  2. Nutrition Care Manual

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