You’re driving down the road, and you see the flashing lights of a cruiser behind you. It’s inevitable; you are about to get a ticket. Even though you know you’re not a criminal, and this is a routine traffic stop, you have a lump in your throat and feel like you could puke from the nausea. You’re experiencing anxiety.

For you, the situation is caused by a temporary upset in your nervous system, but the angst you feel isn’t circumstantial and doesn’t go away for many people. Did you know that anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses around, yet it’s one that so many people try to handle without the help of a specialist?

What You Eat Could Make Your Anxiety Worse

It’s estimated that one in five adults suffers from an anxiety disorder, yet half of those people won’t get help. They will try to self-medicate, and some of their methods can cause more harm than good. Thankfully, anxiety is a very treatable condition that can be managed, and one of the best ways to manage the angst you feel is through the foods you eat.

Yes, what you eat could be eating at you. Did you know that many foods can affect your nervous system and cause your anxiety to go into overdrive? If you are tired of feeling the nail-biting sensations coming from the sting of this mental illness, you should avoid these twelve foods.

1. White bread

worsen anxiety

You’ve probably heard the diet craze about eliminating carbohydrate-laden foods like white bread is essential for weight loss. The reason behind this is because these processed foods all contain refined sugars. While they affect your waistline, they can also change your mood.

Did you know that rapid fluctuations in your sugar can cause anxiety? Have you ever heard that cocaine and sugar do similar things in the body? Well, sugar is known to stimulate the same pleasure centers as the famous street drug.

Sugar will activate these pleasure centers and make you feel fantastic. However, soon after the euphoric feeling comes the crash. Switch out white bread for whole wheat and choose brown rice over white. White foods are processed and bleached and not good for you.

2. Chocolate

Very few people don’t like chocolate. Why is it that when you are stressed, you crave this sweet treat? Chocolate contains both sugar and caffeine.

They slightly increase your sugar levels, then when they come back down, you can feel an increase in your anxiety. Try dark chocolate, which has less sugar, instead.

3. Ketchup

Tomatoes are good for you, but why is ketchup one of the foods with such a high amount of hidden sugar? Experts say that ketchup is the poster child for misconception.

Did you know that it has as much sugar as a half-cup of vanilla ice cream? All these extra carbs play with your sugar levels and can worsen anxiety.

4. Sugary Treats

If you enjoy sugary treats, do so in moderation.

You might think that these treats give you a mood booster, but the research says otherwise. Indeed, Science Direct reports that carbohydrates, including sugar, have zero positive impact on your moods.

What is does do is reward your brain and release feel-good hormones that give you a sensation of pleasure. However, that reward is short-lived. When you crash from your sugar-high, it can trigger feelings of guilt or anxiety.

5. Fruit Juice

Since fruit is good for you, so is juice, right? Not hardly. Most fruit juices are only ten percent fruit and 90 percent sugar and additives. Unless you’re doing freshly squeezed juice, you should avoid it.

When you consume juice, it’s all sugar and no fiber, it makes your blood sugar levels unstable. Blood sugar spikes can cause jitters or worsen anxiety.

6. Fried Foods

There’s nothing better than onion rings, French fries, or a cream-filled doughnut. However, there is a significant link between eating fried foods and having heart disease.

Those who consume fried foods are more apt to be obese, have type 2 diabetes, strokes, hypertension, or heart failure. Isn’t that enough to cause you anxiety?


7. Light Salad Dressings

If you ever see the words “lite” or “reduced fat” on products in your supermarket, you need to read the labels. Most of these items have hidden sugars in them. Did you know that one famous tomato basil sauce found in your supermarket has nine teaspoons of sugar per serving?

All that sugar can worsen anxiety and cause weight gain. While you think you’re cutting corners, it seems like you’ve been the victim of a marketing ploy. You need to look at the nutrients in any salad dressing or other bottled condiments you buy.

8. Artificial Sweeteners

If a product is labeled diet, then most people think that it’s alright. While these items may not pack on the pounds, the artificial sweeteners can be harmful to you. Did you know that you can have the same crashing experience with the synthetic stuff as you can with the real thing?

Aspartame is one of the most used artificial sweeteners, and it will stunt the serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is essential in the management of your anxiety and moods. If you’re drinking diet sodas every day, you could be doing horrible things for your mood.

9. Coffee

Coffee is a beloved drink because it has a generous amount of caffeine in it. It can help you to wake up and get going. However, a large amount of caffeine can also cause you to crash.

Caffeine speeds up the heart and can cause flutters or palpitations if taken in large doses. If there is anything that can kick your anxiety into overdrive, it’s caffeine products.

10. Energy Drinks

If coffee weren’t bad enough, energy drinks could have two or three times the amount of caffeine. Did you know that these drinks are so dangerous they can cause heart attacks in some people?

The American Heart Association posted a warning in 2019 based on a study of these popular drinks. They found that drinking these can cause problems with the heart. One man drank so many of these drinks to function each day, and he was left with a hole in his skull.

Experts estimate that by 2021 this booming industry will make more than $61 billion. People are tired and looking for things that can keep them going. Sadly, these drinks can worsen anxiety. Additionally, there are on average 34 related energy drink deaths each year.

11. Soda

Another favorite drink among Americans is soda. First, they are loaded with sugar. Second, they have high levels of caffeine. While they may not have as much caffeine as a cup of Joe, they are certainly one of the top drinks to avoid. It’s almost as if sugar hijacks your brain and works like a drug to elevate our mood then worsen it.

Plus, soda can cause excessive body fat and inflammation, which can do other problems inside your system. Did you know that more than half of the added sugar in the typical person’s diet comes from soda and other drinks? You should eat your calories, not drink them, and don’t think diet soda is a quick fix. Stay away from these caffeine-laden drinks if you don’t want to worsen anxiety.

12. Alcohol

Many people might be surprised to find alcohol on this list to worsen anxiety as it’s often used to self-medicate the blues. Sure, alcohol is a mood suppressant that can affect your feelings, but it also affects hydration and sleep.

When you consume alcohol regularly, it affects the levels of serotonin and the neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters affect your mood and things like depression and anxiety.

Alcohol is known to suppress the nervous system, which is why so many people drink. However, while you may feel relaxed, the effects can backfire, and your sleep may be interrupted.

When you don’t get proper sleep, it causes anxiety and all sorts of other things. It’s estimated that the high-low cycling of blood sugar can lead to mental health disturbances.

Alcohol is okay in moderation, maybe 1-2 drinks per week. However, anything more than that can cause unhealthy patterns and can even lead to abuse.

worsen anxiety
Final Thoughts on Taking the Foods That Worsen Anxiety off Your Menu

Some say that having an anxiety disorder is like being on quicksand; the harder you struggle to escape, the deeper you sink into the pit. Thankfully, there are ways that you can control your anxiety and not let it win. After all, it’s the easiest to control of all mental health disorders.

First, if you have an anxiety disorder, you should never try to self-medicate. There are natural things that you can do that can help to ease the symptoms. Even something as simple as meditation or yoga can bring relief. If you have ongoing issues with this mental health disorder, you need to watch what you eat. Your body needs nutrients to survive and not all these artificial substitutes.

Did you know that many conditions you face can be cured or helped by merely changing your diet? Mother Nature is a powerful ally in helping you to handle your body’s ailments. What things can you cut from your diet to help lessen rather than worsen anxiety?