5 Foods That Can Increase Your Anxiety
by Ken Goodman, LCSW
Can cookies provoke an anxiety attack? When it comes to anxiety, what you put into your body matters. Certain foods and beverages can make your anxiety worse. Let’s take a look at five of the most common culprits.
- Energy Drinks: Full of caffeine and sugar, energy drinks are one of the worst beverages for anxiety. Consuming an energy drink when you have an anxiety disorder is like petting a kitten when you are allergic to cats. The combination of both the caffeine jitters and the sugar crash can be taxing on your body, adding to the anxiety you feel. No matter how tired you are, if you struggle with anxiety, you should never have an energy drink.
- Coffee: Like energy drinks, coffee is loaded with caffeine, which studies show inhibits serotonin in the brain. When serotonin is suppressed, you can become anxious, irritable, and depressed. Caffeine also can keep you awake at night and inhibit REM sleep. When our bodies don’t get enough sleep, we can become more reactive.
- Cookies & Other Sweets: If you have anxiety, you should limit or avoid snacks that contain refined sugars. Sugar contributes to higher levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Plus, the blood sugar and insulin spikes that accompany the consumption of refined sugar can also lead to irritability and increased anxiety.
- Alcohol: It’s a common misconception that a glass of wine or a cocktail can calm you down. In reality, alcohol can cause anxiety symptoms as it is metabolized in the body. Alcoholic beverages can initially calm your anxiety and ease your worries, but as the effects wear off, it can actually cause an anxiety attack.
- Salty Foods: If you are prone to anxiety attacks, limit your salt intake. Large amounts of salt can deplete your body of potassium, a mineral that is essential for proper functioning of the nervous system. Salt can also increase your blood pressure, put a strain on your heart and arteries, and increase your anxiety.
Coping with anxiety can be a challenge and often requires making lifestyle changes. Watching what you eat and drink is one way to help reduce your anxiety.
<The Anxiety Solution Series> features an entire chapter that talks about foods and beverages that can increase your anxiety.