By: SMP Staff
Want to help overcome stress in a natural way? How about by eating food? Sounds good, but you must eat a certain way to make eating an effective anxiety remedy.
First let’s talk about when you should eat for treatments for anxiety, and the answer is – several times a day and at regular intervals - about two to four hours apart. This DOES NOT mean snacking on junk all day. It DOES mean starting out with a nutritious breakfast and then planning healthy snacks to eat between meals. Why? Because it is crucial to have blood sugar levels stay constant throughout the day.
Breakfast doesn’t have to be a big meal, but it is important to eat because overnight blood sugar levels drop as digestion finishes. If blood sugar is low, your brain will eventually send the strong hunger and craving signals that you need to eat, making it much more tempting for you to get a quick fix from the vending machines, the convenience store, or the bakery you pass on your way to work.
As a matter of fact, people who skip breakfast tend to eat more calories throughout the day than those who do eat in the morning, so skipping meals can actually promote weight gain!
As far as helping anxiety, weight gain doesn’t seem like a great solution. But there is another even more important item you need to consider about blood sugar levels, and that is the way they affect how you feel.
When your blood sugar is low, you feel lethargic, low energy, your attention span shortens, and you can be easily distracted or irritated. Other symptoms of anxiety can become more acute like muscle pain, the inability to relax, weakness, or stress headaches. If you are anxious you feel awful anyway, why make these symptoms worse?
Some people try quick fixes like drinking a soda, an energy drink, or eating sugary foods to feel better and keep those hunger signals from the brain at bay. This may seem like a good solution at first because people do feel better when their blood sugar rises – at least for a little while. People have more energy and their brain rewards them with some powerful feel good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, but then comes the crash.
What goes way up, must come way down. After a splurge, blood sugar levels may drop lower than they were before the sugary snacks. This causes a repeat of the vicious cycle. You feel awful, low energy, short attention span, little things start to bug you, and you can’t seem to focus enough on anything to get something done. So again, your brain sends the signal, you eat snacks; get the high and then the low all over again. This contributes to – weight gain, increased anxiety symptoms, and a much higher risk of getting more serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and chronic anxiety.
So planning your menu, may be one of the best anxiety cures. Take a minute and plan what and when you will eat. Try to include protein in your snacks, and make sure there are lots of healthy choices for your regular meals.