I never realised how much diet can effect anxiety!

HI everyone, I have been a bit quiet on here recently as have been setting myself a new challenge and I wanted to share with you! As the NHS referring me for CBT has a ten weeks waiting list I have taken matters into my own hands and wanted to share how much better I feel... just because of food!

So I didn't eat badly before but having had really bad anxiety the last few months it has really affected my eating - I was getting scared to eat each meal incase it made me feel sick or disagreed with my tummy, I was holding off eating in the morning until I felt shaky with hunger and then again at lunch, in the evenings I was so starving hungry that I would stuff my food so quickly and make myself feel ill and in the mornings I always had an upset tummy. This was all playing havoc with my anxiety - I was getting blood sugar dips and highs and it was making me feel lethargic, irritable, anxious, stressed, and just plain rubbish!

I enlisted the help of a great guy who is a nutritionist and also hypnotherapist and he has transformed my life a little bit! Firstly we talked about the food that I was eating - I thought I ate well, salad, fruit, vegetables, brown bread, jacket potatoes, wholemeal pasta, brown rice, etc, however on further investigation I didn't eat as well as I thought! So he suggested that I bought a book called the Paleo Diet (google it - loads of good blogs) which is effectively a kind of cave man diet. Now I haven't gone hell for leather on it but I have cut out a few things, namely wheat and carbs like potatoes, rice, etc - I am not saying I will never eat a carb again but for the time being I am off them. Now for anyone thinking they couldn't possibly give up carbs I would urge you to try - I was the ultimate carb junky with jacket potatoes being my staple diet, also my 'safe' food when I had anxiety attacks was brown toast with butter on it, so I did have to push myself out of comfort zone, however I have felt better recently than in months, my head is so much clearer and I have only had one anxiety attach in the last month - and that was because I drunk alcohol the night before and ate chocolate.

The main thing I have learnt is not to starve myself - the way he explained it, which made sense to me was that your body does not differentiate from physical and emotional stress - it reacts in the same way, so by starving your body and allowing your blood sugar levels to drop you are putting your body into stress - the result - anxiousness, panic, stress, worry - all leading to an anxiety attack if you let it! Because I was worried about feeling sick I was starving myself and this was leading to more and more problems, lightheadedness, dizziness, feeling sick, etc, which of course was leading me to feel anxious all the time. I have now not had a carbohydrate for nearly a month (apart from in fruit and veg) and I feel so much more in control of my body. I am eating more than I have ever eaten I think, but eating the right things for my body, porridge with water in the morning (not exactly sticking to the Paleo diet for breakfast but the rest of the day I am) then a mid morning snack of an apple (choosing slow release hard fruits is best as they don't result in a sugar spike) lunch of protein and salad with seeds, chicken, boiled eggs, ham, etc, snacks of nuts and carrot sticks - I don't leave the house now without a tupperware of nuts incase I get stuck somewhere and can't get food - then dinner of vegetables and protein.

It isn't the easiest to stick to when you go out but actually I am enjoying my food more than I ever had and don't get cravings for sugary things or carbs anymore - the only thing I have missed was sneaking a chip when we went out for dinner, but I resisted and felt great about it.

It isn't a cure for my anxiety but it has significantly reduced the stress I am putting on my body and has made me feel better than I have in a long time. I just can't believe the effect that diet could have on mental state - I wouldn't have believed you if you had told me so have surprised myself hugely.

It has meant my body is more sensitive to the bad things - I had a few drinks last weekend and a bit of chocolate and for two or three days I didn't feel as good - but that is just a learning curve and has made me realise how it is not worth eating things for the 5 minutes of enjoyment you get out of them, if they make you feel worse! As for the alcohol - I don't need stimulants to have a nice time - in fact I think I have a better time without them - so not missing that now.

I just wanted to share this as I am sure that if this has helped me then it could help other people. I am now sleeping better, being more productive with work and able to concentrate better, have far more energy and motivation to go and exercise, and actually am starting to look forward to things again without having a big black cloud over my head!

Sorry for the length of this, I just hope that it helps some people. To get the guidelines of the Paleo Diet this article explains it quite well and the links it gives are quite useful. nerdfitness.com/blog/2010/1... I think even if you do elements of this it could make you feel better!

6 Replies

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  • Excellent advice and thanks for taking the time to write it all down.

    I shall certainly look more closely at what I'm eating, although I'm tee-total and don't drink tea or coffee.

    My vice is chocolate and I like a tin of Coke every now and then.

  • HI Bramwell - it was actually quite therapeutic writing it all down - made me see things even more clearly! I don't drink tea or coffee because caffeine really doesn't agree with me, my therapist said that if you want to be stimulated, do something stimulating rather than taking stimulants - and that makes perfect sense to me! My vice was bread and carbs and I can't believe how easy it has been to cut them out - I think if you know something makes you feel bad then why would you eat it???

    The alcohol is hard for me - not that I drink much at all - but it is the social side of things that makes it tough. I worry that people will think I am the dull and boring one because I am not drinking wildly - I know I shouldn't worry about what people think but I do - how do you get round that?

  • Hi... don't worry about other people and not drinking.. If they say anything its their problem ! I do not eat many carbs and happy to say have lost 1st 5 ib in 3 weeks.. Thank you for sharing with us and I will google this diet to see.. I agree food does affect the mood.. Keep us informed how you go on .. I for one am very interested as I have a lot of weight to shift x

  • I know - that is a good attitude to take - it is their problem if they don't like that I don't drink! I don't need it to be myself so I don't see the point in hiding behind it!!! That is amazing to hear you have lost that much in 3 weeks. I didn't go on this diet to lose weight - I did it to make myself feel better but the added bonus is that I am now eating more than I have ever and I have still lost half a stone! I am never hungry and always feel full of energy! It is hardest when going out for dinner as nowhere really caters for people that don't want carbs - everything has bread or carbs in it but last night I went out and just asked if I could swap the potatoes for vegetables and it was lovely! Good luck with your quest!!!

  • Thanks lozenge x I don't miss bread or spreads or potatos really.. I miss biscuits though.. I don't drink but it's not a problem to me.. The weight loss will slow down now.. only another 6 st to go lol x

  • Wow -well done everyone! Really proud of you! This is defo something I have been meaning to look into - just need to get more organised!

    x

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