What is anxiety, and what to eat or not if you suffer from it?

written by Patxo Escobar

20 min read

In this article, we'll take a look at how your anxiety arises, what happens to your body when you get it, and explain how each food you choose to eat can move you away or closer to a state of anxiety. Here you can find a list of products that you should avoid if you suffer from this disorder or if you live in the midst of stress; and we created another one with vegetables, proteins, fats, nutrients and adaptogens, which will be very beneficial to maintain your state of relaxation.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a state of alertness, nervousness or anguish that we feel in situations of danger, amazement or surprise. Most likely you feel a bit anxious when you start a new job, when you decide to jump from a seven-meter springboard in the diving pool, or when you say “I love you” to the person you like. This is a normal and natural, but, when that feeling is permanent, and is there all day, and makes you feel afraid even in situations that do not involve any risk, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, and chances are this has become a pathology.

What causes that anxiety?

We are on your side and we have made this article to help you, but it is important that you know that it is you –unintentionally– who creates your anxiety. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people on this planet suffered from anxiety disorders in 2017. After the pandemic, and according to the WHO itself, the figure would have increased by 25 percent. The triggers for anxiety are numerous and can stem from worry.

Do you tend to control everything?

That anxiety turns up when you feel that a situation is out of your control and the strict plan you have created. No one can know exactly what will happen tomorrow or a month from now. No one can erase what has been done before, but everyone, including you, can learn to live in the present moment, in the here and now, putting aside the pretense of being able to control everything, and accepting (and enjoying) life as it is.

What causes our autonomic nervous system to become stressed?

Bad habits, such as a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, constant alcohol intake, prolonged exposure to various sources of radiation or white light from computer screens, cell phones, tablets, televisions, office lighting; working non-stop and compulsively, jet-lag, narrow-mindedness, and poor nutrition, needless to say, among other reasons.

Does a wrong diet worsen anxiety?

Yes, it does. It goes without saying. If food is information that you provide to your body, poor nutritional choices will be detrimental to your body and mental health. That is why carefully choosing what you eat, when you eat, and why you eat, will be vital to improve your anxiety.

Can eating make your body stressed?

If you eat too much, yes. Keep in mind that every time you eat, complex machinery is turned on within the body, involving various organs, movements, enzymes, hormones, and glands. Eating is a pleasure, but it is a demanding bodily process. It is a job for the body. If you eat many times a day, the body will have to make a greater effort, it will concentrate on digestive and assimilation tasks, and it will have less time to recover, regenerate and relax – functions that correspond to the parasympathetic nervous system.

How can this stress occur?

When you bite into an apple, a piece of cake or a chicken breast, the digestive system begins its work and the hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas, plays a very important role in it. It ensures that the glucose contained in food reaches the blood. That glucose, if you don't remember, is the main source of energy for our cells. If we eat five or six times a day, for example, insulin will be working all the time and when it, the 'queen' hormone of our metabolism, has so much to do, it can result in organic imbalances.

What should you not eat or drink if you have anxiety?

1. Sugar

Because it causes insulin to have very high “peaks”, and because it activates the so-called “reward mechanism” in your brain, which, after finishing a vanilla cupcake, makes you ask yourself: “why Why not eat another one?

2. Caffeine

Because it activates your adrenaline, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that is decisive in activating the fight or flight system.

3. White flours

Because, in the end, they behave in your body as if they were sugar and will cause a high rise in insulin. In addition, they affect the intestinal flora and their permanent consumption and in high portions, will end up causing intestinal permeability.

4. Ultra-processed foods

Because, in reality, they are not food and will provide your body with very bad "information". Being laboratory creations, they include preservatives, dyes, sweeteners, high doses of sugars, hydrogenated fats, additives; many chemicals invented by the food industry with a single purpose: greater consumption.

5. Alcohol

Because it modifies our behavior and the levels of some brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin. The effect of the drink causes whoever consumes it, in most cases, to feel more relaxed, uninhibited, happy or funny. However, the anxiety remains there, even after its effect wears off, and it will be even more intense, if you add the discomfort of a possible hangover.

What to eat and what to drink if you suffer from anxiety?

You already know what to cross off your menu if you suffer from this disorder or if you are going through a stage of great stress. Now let's review what nutrients and foods can help you find the balance of your body.


This mineral, is crucial for the body's relaxation efforts and is a great ally of the nervous system. It lowers the heart rate, helps brain work and also helps you fall asleep easily. Keep in mind that most of the inhabitants of this planet have a chronic deficiency of this nutrient.


To function properly, our brain and nervous system require the help of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that exists thanks to choline. This nutrient contributes to detoxifying the body, renewing various tissues and helping with organic recovery.

Vitamins D and B

Various studies have revealed that many patients with anxiety disorders or depression have low levels of these vitamins in their body. You... don't let your guard down and incorporate them into your diet.

Adaptogens, herbs, essences

Let's start with ashwaghanda, which will be very useful in reducing stress, as well as having regenerative properties and being essential for good physical performance and keeping our memory in good condition. Eleuthero, schizandra, reishi and maca, among other botanicals, will also play a crucial role in this task.

Healthy fats, including omega 3

You should always include a good mix of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats in your menu. Insulin will have no problem with them and, in fact, these lipids will help control various hormones that make us want to eat without stopping.

And never lose sight of your hydration

It is estimated that more than 60 percent of our body is water. If you don't hydrate well, you're going to cause great bodily stress, and as you already know, if your body is stressed, it will be an easy prey to anxiety.

In brief…

Eat well, real food and with a generous amount of vegetables of various colors; without forgetting the deep green ones. Stay away from ultra-processed foods, sugar and alcohol. Check the list of foods and nutrients that you have seen in this text. Exercise. Watch your habits... sleep, breathe, meditate. Take some time to observe yourself. And, if anxiety still reaches you, do not despair. Sit next to it, it'll be gone soon.


*Patxo Escobar is a journalist, creator of the project on anxiety and panic, 'TAP: The Anxiety Project'