10 Foods You Should Never Eat If You're Anxious

by Meghan Bassett

One of my personal downfalls is how prone to anxiety I am. I tend to be a very high-strung person, and have a lot of trouble calming down at the end of a long day. I used to simply indulge in whatever foods my stressed out body was craving, but after I learned there are foods anxious people should never eat, I had to change my habits.

Little did I know, simply varying my eating habits actually would help decrease my anxiety. I had never really given much thought to all of those warnings about eating crappy food. However there is truth to those cautions, especially if you are disposed to anxiety and stress. Digging into that bowl of chocolate or pumping the caffeine into your body could bring momentary relief, but in the long run you are going to be left twisting and turning with even more feelings of stress.

Some foods out there can make you feel worse, and only increase your level of anxiety if you turn to them in times of crisis. Here are the 10 foods that you definitely need to avoid when you feel that anxiety creeping up in the back of your mind. Prevent yourself from eating these, and you will be well on your way to feeling relaxed.

1. Coffee & Caffeinated Drinks

You might think coffee and other caffeinated drinks will get you hyper-focused so you can push through your stress. Though it does boost energy, caffeine inhibits serotonin, which can make you depressed and irritable. It will also keep you awake, leading to more stress and anxiety. You need sleep to get through the stress, so skip the caffeine.

2. Candy

Sugar gets into your bloodstream quickly, and causes a temporary high that can make you feel like the stress is gone completely. However, it doesn’t take long for you to come crashing back down, leaving you tired and feeling low.

3. Alcohol

A drink or two certainly makes you relax; we all know this. The problem is one or two drinks can quickly turn into three or four drinks when you’re feeling stressed out. After too many, alcohol ends up being a serious depressant. If you do drink, drink in moderation. Of course if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to just skip it completely (especially that bottle of wine!).

4. Processed Foods

Processed foods like hot dogs, sausages, and other non-natural products contain fats and chemicals that severely inhibit your mood. Instead of going for a hot dog, try going for more natural foods like vegetables, and all natural chicken or fish. You’ll be doing your mind and your body a favor.

5. Sugary drinks

Sugary drinks like soda pack a two-punch of sugar and caffeine that will give you the high you are looking for, but at a cost. A few minutes later, you’ll be crashing. Don’t hop onto this roller coaster ride; skip the line and go for some water instead.

6. Chips

Every time I eat chips, I always feel like I can eat a whole bag full of them, and then feel unbelievably disgusted when I actually do. The unhealthy fats in chips cause the mindless overeating that leads to depression. Yuck.

7. Chocolate

In very small amounts, unsweetened dark chocolate can quell anxious feelings for some people. As many easily stressed folks know, eating small amounts when anxious is the true challenge. Eating a piece of chocolate can easily turn into eating a couple bars of chocolate. It’s the sweeter types of chocolate that you need to avoid, because they’ll worsen your anxiety when eaten in excess.

8. Fast Food

Grabbing a Big Mac when you’re anxious can seem like a quick and easy option, but there are tons of chemicals and preservatives in that meal that will cause your mental state to decline rapidly. You’ll end up feeling tired, overweight, and moody at the end of the meal. It’s completely not worth it, even if you can conveniently order it at a drive-thru window.

9. Spicy Foods

Spicy foods are particularly hard for anxious people’s bodies to process. Consuming spicy food tends to end in discomfort, because it will end up sitting in your stomach longer than it should. Inevitably, you’ll feel like crap. I won’t get into any further detail on this one; you all know where this ends…

10. Gum & Sugar-Free Candies

Sugar-free foods and gum have a tendency to cause bloating and, I’m sure the ladies out there can attest to this fact, bloating does not relieve stress. You’ll end up more irritable and uncomfortable because of it.

Now that you know what not to eat, grab a glass of decaffeinated tea, cuddle up with a blanket and relax!

Images: Katherine Lim, Barta IV, Personal Creations, TheCulinaryGeek, Ben Husmann, Rob Bertholf, Andrew_Writer, Jerry Huddleston, Alexander Mueller, Fantasy/Flickr; Fotolia