The best diet for anxiety: What to eat and what to avoid.
The best diet for anxiety: What to eat and what to avoid.

If you have anxiety, you must have tried so many things to rid yourself of the anxious feelings. Seeing a doctor, getting counselling, and exercising can be really beneficial but don’t forget, a proper diet that is tailor made to your nutritional needs can also complement your efforts. After all, you know what they say  – happiness starts in your gut. You’ll be surprised how making simple modifications to your diet may help alleviate your symptoms.

While some foods make us feel calmer, others can act as stimulants. Here are foods you may want to add to your diet to boost your mood, and other foods you may want to avoid because they can increase stress and even possibly cause depression.


Turkey and Tryptophan-Rich Foods

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid which can have a positive effect on stress because it helps your brain produce feel-good chemicals.You will find tryptophan in foods like turkey, chicken, bananas, milk, oats, cheese, soy, nuts, peanut butter, and sesame seeds. Although there are some questions about whether tryptophan found in food can cross the blood-brain barrier, it’s still worth a shot.

Beef and Foods Rich in Vitamin B

B vitamins, including thiamin or vitamin B1, have been shown to have a link to moods. In fact, a deficiency in B vitamins such as folic acid and B12 can trigger depression in some people. To help ward off anxiety, you can take a vitamin B supplement or eat foods that are rich in B vitamins.

Good carbs

Carbohydrates also increase production of serotonin in the brain. When choosing mood-lifting carbs, go for whole grains, such as whole wheat bread or brown rice, rather than processed foods. Whole grains take longer for the body to break down, and will work to release sugar into the bloodstream slowly. Processed carbs will give you an initial surge of energy, but will ultimately leaving you feeling lethargic as sugar level drops.


Evidence continues to mount that consuming omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, lake trout, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines, can be uplifting and enhance your mood. Some studies have shown that patients who take omega-3 fatty acids along with their prescription antidepressants improved more than those who rely on antidepressants alone. A possible side benefit: Omega-3s may reduce risk of heart disease.

Greek Yogurt and Other High-Protein Foods

Protein helps stimulate the production of the brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine, which, like serotonin, are neurotransmitters and carry impulses between nerve cells. Higher levels of norepinephrine and dopamine have been shown to improve alertness, mental energy, and reaction time. Good sources of protein include Greek yogurt, fish, meats, cheese, eggs, nuts, beans, soy, and lentils.


Coffee and Caffeinated Drinks

The energy surge caffeine gives is a quick and temporary fix. In the long run, caffeine inhibits serotonin levels which can leave you feeling irritable and depressed. Mild dehydration can also lead to depression and caffeine being a diuretic can lead to dehydration especially if you’re not maintaining hydration levels by drinking water.


Sweets in all forms can make us feel better, but again it’s a temporary lift. Sugar absorbs quickly into the bloodstream to energise but the body’s increase in insulin production to remove the sugar from your bloodstream is what leaves you feeling tired and low.


Alcohol does not ease stress and anxiety. In fact, it is a depressant and diuretic. But if you must drink, do so in moderation.

Hot Dogs

Over-processed foods could be a cause of anxiety and other mental health issues. Researchers in London found that people who mainly ate fried food, processed meat, high-fat dairy products, and sweetened desserts had a 58 percent higher risk of depression than those who ate “whole” foods such as fish and vegetables!

Do you avoid certain foods to keep calm?