Anti-Anxiety Diet

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Mental Health
Panic Attack

Does the deadline seem more manageable when you're armed with a bag of cookies? It's true that food soothes. But when life's stresses add up to an anxiety attack, you don't need the food that you eat to make you more anxious. Here's how the Anti-Anxiety Diet can help you choose the right foods to stay calm -- even when you're faced with stressful situations:

  • Complex carbs act as tranquilizers by increasing your amount of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that calms, in your brain. This includes lots of fruits and whole-wheat foods to increase your complex carb intake.
  • Tryptophan -- a precursor to seratonin -- has a calming effect on the body. This includes turkey and milk choices, both of which contain tryptophan.
  • Caffeine can make you jittery and anxious. Substitute a cup of calming herbal tea, such as St. John's Wort or chamomile, for your morning pick-me-up.
  • Chronic dehydration -- however slight -- can cause feelings of anxiety. That's why your diet must include plenty of water, often with some lemon or lime added to liven it up.
  • Frequent, small meals can help keep blood-sugar levels even. Eat a variety of healthy snacks to reduce the jitters that can accompany low blood sugar.

Anti-Anxiety BREAKFAST

Option One

  • One whole-wheat English muffin topped with natural peanut butter
  • Calcium-fortified orange juice
  • Chamomile tea
  • Multivitamin and mineral supplement

Option Two

  • Whole wheat banana
  • Soy muffin with added raisins and walnuts (raisins are high in B6, and walnuts in omega-3)
  • cup fat-free cottage cheese
  • Decaf herbal tea
  • Multivitamin and mineral supplement

Option Three

  • oatmeal with bananas
  • calcium-fortified orange juice
  • St. John's Wort tea

Anti-Anxiety LUNCH

Option One

  • Whole-wheat pita pizza topped with low-fat cheese, tomato sauce and fresh-sliced veggies
  • Fresh orange sections
  • Soda water with lime

Option Two

  • Pita pocket sandwich filled with turkey, tomatoes, lettuce and sprouts
  • Fruit salad with banana, pineapple and oranges
  • Skim milk
  • Option Three
    • Three bean salad on greens
    • Whole-wheat tortilla
    • Chamomile tea

    Anti Anxiety DINNER

    Option One

    • quick turkey tetrazzini
    • mixed green salad
    • pot of peppermint tea

    Option Two

    • pork tenderloin roast
    • acorn squash with butter and brown sugar
    • banana bread pudding
    • spring water with lemon
  • Option Three
    • Thai tofu stir-fry
    • Brown basmati rice
    • Fruit salad
    • Decaf green tea

    SNACKS (choose two a day)

    • Mixed dried fruit and nuts
    • 6 ounces fat free yogurt topped with fresh berries and chopped walnuts
    • Whole-wheat crackers with almond butter
    • Small corn tortilla filled with hummus and sprouts

    Helpful hints

    • Do:
      • Take a multivitamin supplement that includes B and B6. Even undetectable malnutrition can lead to feelings of anxiety
      • Exercise daily. The endorphins produced make you feel relaxed, plus exercise reduces muscle tension and blood pressure
      • Drink plenty of water or other fluids like herb tea
    • Don't:
      • Consume alcohol. Sure, a glass of wine before a big date takes the edge off, but the calming effect of alcohol is short-lived. Once it has worn off, there is a likelihood that your level of anxiety will actually increase
      • Consume caffeine
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