It’s a sad truth that you don’t have to look far these days to find somebody who suffers from anxiety. In fact I think most people would agree when I say that at times, we have probably all had an anxiety experience – whether it be mild or serious.
For a lot of us, food can be a source of comfort when we are feeling anxious, with ‘comfort foods’ often helping us to feel just that little bit better… or so we think. In a recent interview with Prevention, registered dietitian, celebrity nutritionist, and author of Naturally Nourished, Ali Miller talked about the relationship between the food that we eat and our anxiety.
“Anxiety can be caused by inadequate brain levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and GABA, which help reduce the influence of stress hormones, as well as excessive excitatory hormones such as glutamate and epinephrine, which can cause an anxiety and stress response,” Miller said.
“Processed foods especially tend to perpetuate a vicious cycle of guilt, anxiety, cravings, and overeating, making it hard to stop eating them once you start.”
One processed food that has been proven to be particularly bad for anxiety is pasta. While pasta may not seem all that bad on the surface, because it is a refined carbohydrate, it is full of sugar which will of course lead to a blood sugar level spike and an increase in anxious feelings.
A recent Columbia University study even found that the blood sugar spike that happens after eating refined grains puts women at a higher risk of depression. Interestingly, a diet that is rich in whole grains such as brown rice was found to be associated with a lower risk of depression.
Other refined carbohydrates to avoid include white bread and donuts, as well as sugary treats like lollies. While it’s clear that these foods will actually not cause anxiety or depression, if you already suffer from these it may pay to steer clear of these foods as it could elevate your symptoms.