Foods that can cause anxiety
Medications, therapy, mindfulness, and exercise can all be good options for treating anxiety disorders or coping with everyday anxiety (there’s plenty of coronavirus-related anxiety). However, there’s another remedy that’s closer to home: what you eat.
“We have all felt high or low after eating or drinking,” says Sharon Zarabi, RD. “Behaviour and mood can be controlled by the ingredients we put in our bodies.” Stress can affect your eating but eating can also affect your stress levels. Here are the foods that can cause anxiety – avoid them to keep anxiety levels down.
The connection between coffee and anxiety may not seem that surprising, but it bears repeating, especially because so many other foods and drinks contain caffeine. You may be piling on this anxiety-provoking compound without realising it, says Su-Nui Escobar, PhD and RDN. You may be drinking “only” two cups of coffee a day but if you add an energy drink, some soft drink and a slab of chocolate, your intake is sky-high.
Caffeine affects your body in much the same way as a scary event would – by churning out adrenaline, says Escobar. It can also release the stress hormone cortisol which spikes heart rate and blood pressure. Those hormones promote anxiety and also make it harder to sleep, which just worsens the anxiety. Some non-caffeinated but perky alternatives: herbal (not black) tea, decaf coffee, or sparkling water with a lime or fruit undertone. “That gives you the sensation of a bubbly drink with flavour and zero caffeine,” Escobar says.
Speaking of caffeine and energy drinks, these popular products can contain pure, concentrated caffeine. Published in the Journal of Caffeine Research, a 2016 review of studies looking at energy drinks noted that most of the research found associations between consuming energy drinks and symptoms of mental health problems such as anxiety, stress and depression.
And energy drinks may do more than make you feel jittery. They’ve been linked with increased heart rate and blood pressure as well as changes in the electrical activity of the heart, even strokes and seizures, not to mention anxiety and even psychosis, according to the American College of Cardiology.