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Food as Anxiety Therapy

As the old saying goes, “we are what we eat.”  So yes, your food as anxiety therapy.

Sometimes that  is a brutal reality. If we eat junk, we’re going to feel like junk.  Problem is, when we feel anxious, stressed out, or depressed what is the first thing to go out the window. OUR DIET!

What we eat can hinder or help our emotional state. So can food used as an effective anxiety therapy?

Yes, and it’s simple too!

Here are some of the top foods that make you feel like a lump of junk:

  1. Sugar. Sure you might feel a high from it for a few hours, than CRASH. Your brain chemistry gets a serotonin high when you have a sugar or refined starch binge … up to 400% increase in the happy brain chemical. Unfortunately the crash isn’t worth it and usually creates the never ending cycle of binging.
  2. Caffeine. Hello anxiety!  Caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands to output adrenaline, cortisol, HGH. If someone has anxiety, the last thing he/she needs more added stimulation of a set of hormones that make you more anxious!
  3. Alcohol. We all know alcohol is a depressant, so it’s probably not a good idea for someone who is depressed to drink it right? Alcohol is also very taxing to the liver, which is our chemistry lab for all of our feel good brain chemicals and sex hormone levels.  Ever notice how you feel after having a bit too much fun at that girls night out?  Headaches, anxiety, spacey, detached, and tired are all ways your liver is telling you not to do that again.
  4. Brain berserking food Additives like MSG, phenylalanine (aspartame), dyes & preservatives.  If our body is already on red alert and we’re feeling anxious, the last thing we need is to add chemicals that actually make the nerves fire even more!  That’s the fast track to MORE anxiousness and even OCD behavior. I won’t mention the long term effects that mimic multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia.
  5. Wheat / Gluten.  Don’t hate me, wheat is the devil for most of us. Why? I could write a 10,000 word dissertation with all the facts and figures but you’d be sleeping in 5 minutes guaranteed.  The down and dirty is that wheat isn’t the same as it was even 50 years ago. It’s now Frankenstein engineered wheat xanax half life our body freaks out and gets crazy inflamed from it. It wrecks our gut and then we have toxic protein floating around our brain and it completely whacks us out with brain fog, depression, mood swings, fat bellies, and horrific rancid gas.


Now for the good news, you can change up the 5 things above with these simple options:

  1. Processed sugar / refined flour for fresh fruit, whole grains (see #5), and starchy veggies. What’s a starchy veggie? Beets, carrots, squashes, and sweet potato. It’s going to be hard coming off the white crack, but you can do it!
  2. Caffeine addiction is tough.  Some people do well with green or Jade Oolong tea because of the anxiety quenching theanine, so that might be an option. Herbal teas are great fun and satisfying as hot or cold beverage, especially calming are chamomile, hops, hibiscus, eleuthero, rehmannia, and licorice root. All of these can give a soothing boost to your day.
  3. Do I need to lecture you on the booze? Nope, not my duty. Use your brain and if you think you need to cut back you probably do. On the occasions you decide to enjoy an adult beverage, get the good stuff. Cheap booze is more likely to make you feel like crap the next day. So go top shelf, chichi wine, and no beer. Beer is super high in “hangover loving” yeast.
  4. What to do about the additives and chemicals in your foods and drinks? STOP INGESTING THEM!  Eat real food with single ingredients. It’s that simple. If it came out of a box or can, don’t eat it. Buy ingredients and make stuff yourself.
  5. Jump on the gluten-free crazy train!  You will feel much better and you might lose some weight while you’re at it. In moderation, choose grains that your body will appreciate like quinoa, amaranth, and wild rice. 1/2 cup maximum in any given meal.  Even better, get your carbs from sweet potato, squashes, fresh fruits, and root veggies.


Keep it simple and start with ONE thing. Pick the biggest anxiety culprit for you. If you drink 6 cups of coffee a day, start with the caffeine. If you’re buying candy bars in bulk, start with sugar. Can’t get off the Diet Coke? Begin there.


Following me on this food as anxiety therapy thing?!?!?!


Live well,


Functional Nutrition expert Jen Springer


One Response to “Food as Anxiety Therapy”

  1. Audrey Phillips says:

    I am so glad to have found a new source of information. I have been STRUGGLING seriously with anxiety for the last 6 months. I have sought psychiatric help after my medical doctor had no information about the anxiety. The mental meds caused a significant drop in my sugar levels when taken with my type 2 diabetic meds. I have lost several jobs and my spouse and I are separated now because I am nearly paralyzed by anxiety. I rarely drive or leave the house anymore and I realized after ready your article that low blood sugar and a caffeine addiction may be contributing factors. I will start today by eliminating caffeine and diet soda along with eating healthier and more regular meals. Thank you.

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