This post is a hard one for me to write.
It’s also incredibly near and dear to my little banana loving heart, which is why I feel like I need to share.
Anyone who has ever dealt with an anxiety disorder can tell you, it’s a real son of a bitch. I’m not one of those folks. In fact, if I’m being completely honest, anxious people make me anxious. How’s that for a catch-22?
My personal coping mechanism falls into the ignorance is bliss philosophy, and I downplay troublesome events at every turn. Case in point, here’s a snippet of an actual conversation I had with someone, a few years back: “What? You need brain surgery? Pfft, no worries, they do it on Grey’s Anatomy all the time.”
My thought process is the opposite mentality for someone with anxiety, so when people start losing sleep over stuff I consider non-consequential or things I’m not ready to confront, I get uncomfortable at best and frustrated at worst. Guess what though? Anxiety is something I’ve had to come to terms with because it’s a part of my world now, for a variety of reasons, which we don’t need to get into. Oh look, my defense mechanism rears her head.
Here’s the thing, life occasionally throws you a curve ball you can’t catch or dodge, no matter how hard you try, so you learn to deal with it the best you can. For me and my type A personality, this involved understanding everything I could about anxiety disorder and then making any change possible to help alleviate those symptoms. Enter a healthy lifestyle, stage left.
For those impacted, anxiety disorder is not something one can just wish away or simply shrug off. Anxiety disorder is brain chemistry gone awry, with environmental and genetic factors playing a role. Quite frankly, the idea of telling an anxious person to calm down and relax is laughable and not at all helpful. Basically, I wouldn’t recommend it.
What I do recommend though is natural ways to try to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Typically, cutting back on sugar, sugar laden products and caffeine is a good bet since overstimulation isn’t the best idea when you’re already on edge. While ditching these things from your diet can help, I’d rather focus this post on the foods you can and should eat to ease symptoms.
While I do believe food has medicinal properties, I don’t think eating a banana will stop a panic attack in its track. That being said, a healthy lifestyle, when employed regularly, can impact the strength and severity of the symptoms. A good psychiatrist, coupled with cognitive behavioral therapy, should also be a part of your care plan. Those guys get paid to understand the ins and outs of brain chemistry for a reason.
Foods To Reduce Anxiety Symptoms.
- Foods Rich in Calcium and Magnesium. Bear with me while I get a bit scientific: When you’re anxious, your nerves are generally overstimulated and your muscles are tense and tight. Calcium and magnesium work together to help regulate nerve conduction and muscle contraction.
Some calcium rich foods include leafy greens, broccoli, dairy products (hello cheese) and figs. Avocados, seeds, such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, flax powder, dark chocolate and summer squash are all foods rich in magnesium.
- Tryptophan helps manufacture serotonin, a mood-enhancing neurotransmitter.
Bananas are one of my favorite sources of tryptophan, although they are in good company with dairy products (hooray, more cheese), eggs, oats, seafood, poultry, dried dates, peas and turnips.
- Complex carbohydrates help your body absorb tryptophan, while also elevating your serotonin levels.
Complex carbs include whole grains, green vegetables, starchy vegetables, beans, lentils and peas. This would entail whole wheat bread, pasta, brown rice, buckwheat, barley, oatmeal, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, pumpkin, broccoli, spinach, green beans, carrots, radishes, and asparagus.
- Vitamin B6 assists in the manufacture of brain chemicals, with serotonin being one of them. Serotonin helps us cope with stress and anxiety, and foods high in Vitamin B6 include fish, poultry, sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, bananas, beef, bell peppers, chickpeas, avocados, and potatoes.
I’m a practical creature at heart, so while it’s great to know bananas and potatoes are mental health rock stars, I find seeing them in action even more worthwhile. With that being said, here’s a host of recipes or recipe ideas, which include at least one, if not many more of the above ingredients.
Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Blue Cheese, Red Onions and Walnuts. Replace the strawberries with banana slices and the walnuts with sesame seeds, and you’ve got yourself a bowl of anxiety reducing goodness.
Vegetarian Cobb Salad with Avocado, Carrots, Bell Peppers and Feta
Stuffed Baked Potato with Bell Peppers, Cheddar, Green Onions, Butter and Greek Yogurt
Simple Vegetable Stir Fry over a bed of Brown Rice or Barley
It’s nice to know food which tastes absolutely amazing can make you feel good too, so the next time you find yourself dealing with anxiety disorder, sit back – no need to relax – and enjoy your eats.
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Have you ever dealt with an anxiety disorder or someone else who has one? How did or do you manage anxiety? If you’ve got any tips or have ever done a post on this topic, please feel free to link up in the comments section below.