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!