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Foods and drinks that make you anxious

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

A big part of helping people with anxiety is identifying some things that they might be eating or drinking that can make them feel anxious. Here are some things you might be eating and drinking that can make your anxiety worse!

Foods and drinks that make you anxious

Low hanging fruit:

1) Anything with caffeine – I live for my morning cup of joe, but for people suffering from anxiety it can be the cause of a lot of unnecessary anxiety. Coffee, green and black teas and sodas are just the tip of the iceberg, you’d be surprised to know how many things have caffeine in them. Anything with green tea extract (think mochi ice cream), chocolate products, caffeinated waters, caffeinated alcoholic beverages, power beverages, coffee infused beer… the list goes on.

2) Special shout out to green tea – L-theanine is a compound commonly found in green tea. Though the literature suggests that this compound can reduce anxiety, it can actually cause it in many individuals seeking their morning pick-up without the jitters coffee can cause.

3) Alcohol – Bregman… isn’t alcohol something people drink in moderation to relax? You wouldn’t be wrong, but after the immediate effects of the alcohol wear off, people often report rebound anxiety and even panic attacks the next day. That doesn’t even take into consideration any errors of judgement one might make when under the influence…

4) Sugary foods and drinks –Remember “sugar high’s?” When we eat or drink sugary compounds (and high glycemic index foods like white breads and processed carbohydrates) our blood sugar levels spike in a way that can make us feel jittery or energized for a short period of time before we experience a “sugar crash.” As you can imagine neither is good for you. Even worse, the rapid increase in oxidative stress (when our bodies turn food into energy too quickly) can have a long-term impact on our brain health.

The more you know

1) Nightshade family plants – Did you know that tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and potatoes come from the same family as deadly nightshade? Most people can tolerate these foods without much fanfare, but for people looking to identify and cut out potential dietary causes of anxiety, this is a good place to start.

2) Black pepper – Once worth its weight in gold, this ubiquitous spice has an active ingredient that can trigger heartburn, a symptom many people associate with anxiety.

3) Mint/Lemon balm – When reaching for a non-caffeinated tea, a refreshing mint tea is often high on our list. Sadly, teas containing mint family plants (mint, lemon balm, pennyroyal to name a few) can induce a cold sweat that can trigger a panic attack in people unfamiliar with this effect.

4) Gassy foods/drinks –The gassy/bloated feeling some people can get after they eat beans or drink carbonated beverages can, to no one’s surprise, make people feel anxious. Garlic family foods, milk products (for those with lactose or A1 intolerance) and fermented foods are also surprising sources of anxiety.

We hope you’ve found this helpful. If you would like to learn more or get additional support, please reach out!

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