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The Unique Relationship Between Your Diet and Anxiety

Written by S.O.

Posted on June 18, 2015 at 1:54 pm

We have minds that are not only sensitive to physical damage, but emotional and psychological trauma as well. Anxiety and stress are a few of the adversaries of our fragile minds, and if unaddressed, these things can go as far as to render us useless and keep us from accessing our full potential as human beings.

The first step is to understand that everything we do is related to the health of our brains and our bodies. Our diet can directly affect our mental state, so it only makes sense that if we are consuming unhealthy foods, we will develop an unhealthy mind.

We live in a culture that puts a lot of stock in physical prowess, and to fall short of that standard can send us into a downward spiral from which it can be very difficult to escape. But we are far from hopeless; after all, our minds are the very reason we are able to keep control of our lives.

Although staying conscious of our diet is a good defense against anxiety or stress, it is still not an absolute cure. These can be serious mental conditions, and it is important to seek the proper treatment when dealing with such things.

The basic rules about eating foods that will keep our physical bodies healthy generally apply to keeping our mental state in shape as well. If we follow the guidelines that have already been set for eating healthy, we can reap the benefits of that healthy lifestyle.

Nourishing ourselves is not just about eating right so that we can stay in shape; it includes maintaining every part of our existence. Our mental, social, spiritual, emotional, and physical states all come together to form our being. If one of these is neglected, it can throw off the balance of our entire working system.

Expert advice from groups like the Mayo Clinic tells us that starting the day off the right way with things like eggs, oatmeal, or healthy brands of cereal will provide our bodies with protein.

The body uses protein for things like hair and nail growth, but what we are more concerned with are the important enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals that are produced through digesting protein. These enzymes give the body energy to handle things in stride, and give the brain the capacity to work to its full potential. Without protein, small problems throughout the day may seem a lot harder to handle.

Foods like whole grain bread, pasta, and granola are all high in complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs are actually believed to produce a chemical called serotonin in the brain, which is a huge part of what keeps us calm and collected.

In contrast, there are simple carbohydrates, which actually have the opposite effect. Anything that is high in sugar will contain simple carbs. Alcohol, (which contains a lot of sugar) may have a calming effect initially, but long term it can affect our ability to adequately handle ordinary trifles in a positive way.

This system works both ways. As the brain undergoes more stress and anxiety, eating habits change accordingly. In a retrospective survey, United States Marines reported eating less than usual as they underwent stressful situations.

As they encountered fear, nervousness, and anxiety, it was reported that they ate less during every meal. Their bodies lacked the proper nutrients, which in turn put more stress on their minds, given that the body was less equipped to handle their situation physically. Even though most of us will never experience the same stress level as those in combat, we all certainly experience anxiety in our day-to-day lives.

Whether it is raising kids, working at a difficult job, or being diligent with schooling, we all have important aspects of our lives. Since they matter so much, when things go wrong, it is a big deal.

We want to set ourselves up for good things in the future, and if circumstances threaten that, we find ourselves in a very stressful situation. These stressful situations are times when we should be paying more attention to our diet, not less. Our diets will, when healthy, help us find the strength to take control of a bad situation and figure it out.

Becoming familiar with our personal dietary needs can also have an affect the state of our minds. For instance, anxiety in the mind may cause some people to eat less, while in other’s systems it will cause them to over-eat.

Certain foods affect people differently, and learning to stay away from things that irritate the normal function of our bodies makes it easier for our minds to deal with stress. For example, spicy foods can be very destructive to some, while to others it is hardly noticed. For those that don’t handle it as well, it would be unwise to indulge. Putting the physical body through stress by eating the wrong foods will in turn put stress on the mind.

As mortal beings, we only get one vessel. Our bodies are working systems that need to be maintained and cared for. The key is consciousness. We need to remain conscious about what we put into our bodies, because we know that it will directly affect our mental state. We need to gravitate towards what is healthy and stay away from what we know can be harmful for us.

The difficult thing about controlling our diet while stressed is the fact that we are stressed out! We are stuck trying to juggle what our brain is telling us versus what we know is good for our physical bodies.

In stressful or anxiety-inducing situations, we will always want to get back to a feeling of comfort. So if we are used to eating junk foods and indulging in an unhealthy lifestyle, that’s what our brains will tell us to do in high stress situations.

However, if we can make a habit of eating the right things, starting the day off right with protein, eat plenty of whole grain foods throughout the day, and work complex carbs into our diet, we will find comfort in those healthy things instead and begin a cycle of dealing with stress in more and more healthy ways, leading to a much happier, longer life.

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