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  • Writer's pictureRobin Rhine McDonald

How to Eat to Reduce Anxiety

Did you know that your gut and your brain have an intimate connection? Research is now showing that what you eat can have a dramatic affect on anxiety, depression, and other mental struggles. This may come as no surprise when you consider the way your stomach feels when your mind is not in a good space. Every brain chemical can also be found in your gut, your digestive system. Many have found relief from anxiety and depression by altering what they eat and by intentionally working towards a healthy balanced gut microbiome. There’s no question that we are dealing with difficult times that, understandably, bring about more stress and anxiety. These are a few tips that you can implement right away to begin to reduce your stress and anxiety and improve your digestive system and health in order to have a more peaceful experience through these challenging times.

Drink Bone Broth:

Bone broth is full of gelatin and collagen, both of which help to heal your digestive system by building the tissue that lines your entire gastrointestinal tract.

It also helps your body to detox. The glycine in bone broth supports your cells and liver in detoxing. Additionally, bone broth contains glutathione, which has a major role in supporting your cells.

By supporting the healing of your gut, your detoxification system, and the health of your cells, bone broth can serve a big part in supporting the aspects of your body that allow your brain to function as it should, thus minimizing anxiety. It is super easy to make. Use chicken or beef bones (the only meat that is left at the grocery store these days) that have been roasted until the oven or cooked in a crockpot. (Sometimes I’ll just use the carcass of an organic rotisserie chicken). Throw them in the crockpot (8-12hrs on low) or instant pot (90-120 minutes) with a TBS or two of apple cider vinegar, enough water to cover the bones (about 6cups), throw in some onion and garlic, and let it cook!

Increase Healthy Fats:

Healthy fats are BRAIN FOOD, if you are not consuming enough, you could be hindering the support your brain needs to function effectively. Fats also help to prevent your blood sugar from spiking, which minimizing inflammation a contributor in poor gut health and anxiety.

Healthy fats include foods like:

  • Avocados

  • Coconut Oil

  • Grass Fed Butter

  • Fat from Grass Fed/Pasture Raised Animals

  • Olive Oil

  • Avocado Oil

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

Avoid Junk Food:

It goes without saying, however, it's not always easy to abide by. When we are feeling anxious, often times our body is literally screaming for unhealthy snacks. It's important to recognize that your body isn't actually asking for those foods, but rather comfort, nourishment, and rest.

Cut Out Sugar:

I put sugar in a distinct category from junk food, not because it isn't included, but because it often finds its way into healthy foods as well. Check out the blog I did on "Unhealthy 'Health' Foods" to find out where it hides.

Do Deep Breathing Prior to Eating

Anxious eating has a negative affect on your digestion, and in turn, your ability to absorb nutrients. By taking 2 minutes to practice deep breathing, you shift your body from a stress state into a rest and digest state. Deep breathing is the only proven method of taking our body out of a stressful, biological state.

Breathe in deep for 4 seconds. Hold for 7. Then slowly release for 8 seconds. Do this four times prior to eating, and notice what a more relaxed meal you'll have! You may even notice less bloating and discomfort after eating if that is something you experience regularly.

Eat Fiber Rich Foods

The recommended amount of fiber is 25-30g of fiber, which in my opinion is still low. However, the average American only consumes half that amount. Fiber is very important for keep blood sugar levels down, for feeding the good bacteria in your gut (fiber is a pre-biotic), and for overall digestive health.

The foods most rich in fiber are vegetables and fruits. Top of the list are artichokes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, berries, avocados, and pears!

Take Probiotics

It is not a question of whether or not your gut needs healing. It's a question of to what extent. It is my opinion that everyone can benefit from taking probiotics. The strain does matter. In general, I recommend taking these probiotics. I take them every single day. They have been tested against other brands to survive the digestive process and make it to your gut.

Refrigerated probiotics are not always the best. If they need to be refrigerated in order to survive, how will they handle your body's acid and internal heat of 98.6F?

If you want a fun way to get more probiotics and fiber, try these delicious chocolate bars!

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