Diet for a healthy mind: How to keep anxiety at bay
The right diet along with daily exercise and restful sleep can go a long way to help ease anxiety. Whether you are being treated for anxiety or not, you can eat healthy to keep calm and cope better.
Before getting to the food to include, here’s what you can avoid if you are suffering from anxiety or anxiety related mental health issues:
- Processed food and junk food
- Sugar, especially sugar which sneaks into your diet in the form of juices, sauces, breakfast cereals, condiments, bakery items etc.
- Excess caffeine
A nutritious diet rich in protein, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables is good for your physical and mental health. To ensure you get enough minerals and vitamins, here are some foods that can help. Ridhi Golecha, a food psychologist who specialises in weight management and body image, recommends you add these foods to your daily diet to get the right nutrients that are good for your mental health and well-being.
You can eat a fistful of nuts like Brazil nuts which contain selenium. It is good to eat a variety of nuts like walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts which include minerals that are good for coping with anxiety.
Tip: You can soak almonds and walnuts before eating so that it is easier to absorb the nutrients.
Pumpkin seeds contain zinc and magnesium which helps improve your mood and fight depression. It is also good to eat these seeds for balancing electrolytes.
Studies show that turmeric helps improve immunity and reduce anxiety. Many people worry about what form of turmeric is best and whether they need to include curcumin supplements.
Tip: If you are concerned about how much curcumin is needed and researching which is the best source, don’t bother because it doesn’t matter as long as you include good quality turmeric in your daily diet.
Chamomile tea is best before sleeping as it helps alleviate anxiety. You can add some honey to your camomile tea.
Sunlight and Vitamin D supplements
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to anxiety and depression. Getting ample sunlight is the best way to ensure you produce enough Vitamin D. Pregnant women need to ensure they take Vitamin D supplements as prescribed. Some dietary sources of Vitamin D are salmon, eggs and mushrooms.
In addition to eating right, you may need to address your food cravings and causes for those cravings. One of the most common cravings is sugar. According to Ridhi, “Food swaps are a good way for controlling these cravings. So instead of reaching for a bar of milk chocolate which can worsen your anxiety symptoms, it is better to eat a couple of pieces of dark chocolate or dates. But, it is important to understand why you are craving it in the first place. Whether it is overeating or cheating on your diet, you need to address the underlying cause of your cravings or lack of control.”
Curcumin for the Treatment of Major Depression: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Study: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25046624/