The Link Between Diet and Anxiety

I’m definitely not a scientist but science, facts and figures have always interested me. I research everything, I love to learn and build my knowledge on almost anything especially anxiety.

Something that’s really intrigued me for a long time is the link between diet and anxiety. I’ve read a lot about it and wanted to put a few things to the test so, I did a little experiment.

A little Background

I suffer from pretty severe anxiety and I’m recovering from Agoraphobia. I experience some form of anxiety daily, my symptoms can differ depending on my moods, have days where I feel extremely tired and shaky and although in this experiment I mention these things I can’t for sure say that my change in diet caused them. Take from it what you will, this is just my experience!

The Experiment

If anyone follows me on social media you’ll know I’ve been trying to lose weight. I’ve been eating pretty clean foods and don’t touch almost anything that is processed. It’s been said a clean diet with a lot of anti-inflammatory foods is much better for mental illness sufferers. I put it to the test.

For 14 days I ate clean, I had a treat every now and then but 99% of what I ate was natural eg, fruits and vegetables, lean meat (below 5% fat) and I cut dairy to the minimum.

Then the next 14 days, I put my body through something I thought I’d never do again. I ate takeaways, greasy processed food, refined sugar and all things ‘not good’ for you. I wanted to share my results on both.

Eating Healthily for 14 days

This was pretty easy for me as I was already eating quite well but I definitely made much more of an effort to pick whole grains over white, processed products and cut down on ‘treats’. In these two weeks, my anxiety was at a good level. I felt much clearer mentally and didn’t feel that ‘fog’ you can often feel when you’re anxious or low in mood.

My diet consisted of a lot of fruit and vegetables, probably around 7 lots a day. I stuck to lean meats and good carbs like whole grain rice and bread. I didn’t drink anything other than water or sugar-free squash in these 2 weeks either.

In these 14 days, I definitely felt much calmer in myself and I almost felt as though I didn’t feel so overwhelmed. It was great to know what I was putting into my body actually was doing me good mentally and physically. My skin cleared a little… when I say a little I mean for me, my acne is still there! I was really intrigued as to how I would feel when not eating so well as it had been a long time since I really mistreated my body and ate whatever I wanted!

14 Days of Nothing but SH*T… Literally

I’m not very shy when it comes to talking about anything really, I am always throwing TMI at you! Here’s what happened in these 2 weeks of, quite frankly, hell.

Day 1 & 2 were fine, I was enjoying myself actually. I was eating things I hadn’t eating in such a long time I almost forgot why I was doing it!

Day 3 & 4 I started to get headaches and feel pretty bloated, I have IBS so this was something I pretty much knew for certain would happen. My mental health was still pretty stable at this point although I felt extremely tired. I was lacking in energy throughout the whole of day 4.

Day 5  – 8… This is when it gets bad. On day 5 my anxiety hit me like a train, I was shaking and I couldn’t concentrate on anything the whole day. This pretty much continued the whole time. My stomach was upset and I felt pretty nauseous, which makes my anxiety worse. My brain and body felt heavy. I was drained but at the same time, felt like I had electricity running through me. My body couldn’t sit still for more than 20 minutes an I was unable to concentrate most days.

Day 9 – 14. On day 9 I had my first panic attack in 2 months which really messed me up. I really did not feel good. Overthinking was a daily occurrence, about anything and everything. Double and triple checking absolutely everything I had planned was something I did multiple times a day.

Comparison

Compared to how I felt in the first 2 weeks, the 2 weeks I ate rubbish really were hell. It’s actually taken me another 2 weeks to really even start to settle. Fueling my body with processed foods proved to me that diet has a key role in mental illness. You have to treat your body well, looking after yourself includes taking care of your diet. I really do feel like the amount of dairy I was consuming had a lot to do with the anxiety and also the sugar. My body isn’t used to a lot of sugar as I really do stay away from processed high sugar foods.

No Scientist

As I’m sure you can tell I’m certainly not a scientist but I hope you’ve been able to take something from this post if you’re suffering! It really has opened my eyes to why we should keep a clean diet and why I will continue to do so. Now to work off the 5 lbs I gained over those 2 weeks…

Abbie x

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3 Comments

  1. February 26, 2018 / 8:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s great to see someone talk about this. I have a strong interest in wellness and have heard about this food-mental health connection for a while. I still don’t fully understand the science myself, but I share in your experience of feeling more upbeat and having a certain mental clarity when taking more care of what I eat.

    • abigail
      March 1, 2018 / 11:36 am

      Thanks Marisol! I’m also really interested but am not too sure on the science behind it. I think as long as I feel it’s working then that’s enough for me but there’s a link between serotonin and your gut so I believe that has a lot to do with it! x

      • March 1, 2018 / 5:00 pm

        You’ve inspired me to do a bit more research!

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