Coosing a Diet
There is no one healthy diet suited for everyone. How we react to and metabolize food is a unique experience. A food labeled as healthy may cause you to have an allergic reaction. For example, milk and dairy products may cause bloating and stomach upsets for people who are lactose intolerant.
You read earlier in the chapter that a diet based on processed foods or junk foods can either cause anxiety or worsen anxiety symptoms. Best choices are whole foods. You have also read how caffeine, nicotine, and other substances increase anxiety and may even contribute to the development of anxiety disorders. But there are certain foods that may actually calm you down. One of the most important tips about food and anxiety is to try and keep your blood sugar level throughout the day, because fluctuations can make you fatigued, irritable, and anxious. If you are not sure how to construct a food plan to help you decrease anxiety, at the end of the chapter we'll list professionals who can help you.
Researchers studying how food affects emotions found that carbohydrates elevate serotonin, because of the sugar and starch they contain. If you are feeling anxious, you might want to try eating a bowl of cereal or a baked potato before you grab a tranquilizer. Feel sluggish and fatigued? Then choose protein for a quick pick me up.
It is not uncommon for “chocolate cravings” to occur when your emotions are running high, and feeding your chocolate craving usually relaxes and calms body and mind. Some researchers believe that the craving is not just for the sugar, but for the sugar combined with fat. Chocolate contains the perfect combination, 50 percent each of fat and sugar along with phenylethylamine, an ingredient that causes endorphins to be released. Endorphins are pain-killing Chemicals that occur naturally in your body and also produce feelings of pleasure and well-being. Chocolate can cause anxiety because of the caffeine content, but it also contains tryptophan, another chemical that creates calm feelings and sleepiness. Chocolate both stimulates and calms and is an antioxidant too. Experts suggest that a small amount of chocolate once in a while will not hurt you.
Can eating a banana reduce anxiety? Musicians and other performers are using bananas to conquer performance anxiety. Many people claim that eating one or two bananas thirty minutes before a performance reduces the symptoms of stage fright, like shaky hands, heart palpitations, and the inability to concentrate. It is believed that bananas work to calm because they contain potassium and substances that act like beta-blockers. Bananas also have a thick creamy consistency, which may help to ease stomach problems caused by nerves. Since no research has been done on the banana phenomena, it is not known if bananas' calming affects are based on science or a placebo effect.
Performers commonly use grape juice to ease stage fright. Research shows that the juice increases the manufacture of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that transmits messages to areas of the brain that control movement, thought, and feelings of pleasure. Grapes are high in potassium and vitamins B1 and B2, and antioxidant properties.