Many people would not know this, but I used to suffer from anxiety (a.k.a. Panic Attacks). I am not just talking about,
“Oh. My. Gosh, I hate flying”—anxiety.
Or, “I am so going to fail this test”—anxiety.
I am talking about the “Can’t catch my breath,”
“Think I am going to die,” heart palpitations, end up in the hospital— anxiety.
It started a few months before my 18th birthday and followed me into college. All things considered, I did a relatively good job at hiding just how terrifying and debilitating it was.
When people ask me why I do not eat something, or find my “restrictive” “diet” painful… expressing: “I could never give up xyz,” I acknowledge their opinion, and move on. First of all, I truly enjoy what I eat, and being forced to get creative in the kitchen. Outside of that though… While a scoop of ice cream is, by no means, going to give me anxiety, or lead me down the road to depression, anxiety, or the like… the sheer fact that nutrition changed so many aspects of my life, is enough to keep me on the path that I am.
Want another example?
Say you love milk, but are not satisfied with your body. If you were to eliminate milk and start to feel wonderful in your body… Would you still love milk?
What is more important to you?
No headaches, or cake?
More energy? Or pizza?
No anxiety? Or your “old way of eating”?
I have witnessed, both, with my own experience, and clients alike, the way a wholesome diet can gradually heal a range of ailments from headaches to disease.
Brushing the Surface
When we consume artificial foods for instance, the chemicals are absorbed into the body and the blood stream.
Imagine that food is like medicine. If you believe a tiny pill is capable of affecting how you feel, it should not be too farfetched to imagine how the build up of man-made ingredients can affect the body.
When we eat something, the components (ingredients) of that food (or beverage) are not just run off on the treadmill. Just because something contains zero calories does not mean that we are consuming air. While a diet soda may not make us incoherent, as would an alcoholic beverage, you better believe it is doing something in there.
The intestines are spongy. In the same way that the body absorbs vitamins and minerals from food, it is also just as capable of absorbing other unwanted substances. If you can envision it, the small and large intestine(s) total twenty-five feet in length. Not only does a meal have a long way to travel, but also not all food is digested and assimilated the equally.
When foods are left to putrefy and decay, they are far from pleasant and certainly not appetizing. Your body would agree.
A piece of meat for instance, is going to rot, and release poisons into the blood stream. The blood is cycled throughout the body, visiting each of the body’s organs. If the blood is not clean, it will wreak havoc… whether that means causing cardiovascular problems in one person, or anxiety in the next…
The good news is that we can cleanse and renew the blood gradually by proper eating, and other cleansing methods (exercise, etc.).
It is for this reason that it is pertinent that we choose wholesome foods that are nutrient dense, and nourishing.
We live in a society that assumes potency is associated with efficacy. In other words, when we read the Nutrition Facts, (on some well marketed food label), and it tells us that it contains X amount of protein, Y amount of fiber, and it also contains vitamins A, C, D, E, F, and G, we are going to believe it.
But really… How viable is the Vitamin C in a vitamin infused gummy worm?
Unfortunately, and in reality, the numbers found on product labels are not equivalent to how the body is actually able to absorb and utilize the stated nutrients. Additionally, foods have different pH scores, which affect the acidity of the body. In other words, there are a lot of things that should be taken to account when nourishing the body.
12 Tips for Managing Anxiety (and depression) Naturally
Specifically speaking to anxiety, which tends to coexist with other such “disorders” (such as depression), it is VITAL to watch for the following:
1. Candida—you would be surprised at the number of women (and men) that unknowing suffer from Candida. Candida feeds off of sugars in sweets, wine, starches, breads, etc., and is worsened by certain pharmaceutical medications, alcohol, and birth control.
Tips: Cut as much sugar from the diet as possible, focusing only on natural sugars found in plant foods. Unfortunately fruits, and honey (raw too) aid in helping Candida to flourish. Looking for sweet? Try Stevia. My personal favorite is NuNaturals brand Alcohol free products, but there are other brands out there too. For further recommendations, I highly suggest you read this article.
2. Eliminate Soy. Why? For starters… Soy is processed. Processed. PROCESSED. Want the full lingo? Read on here.
3. Eliminate dairy from your diet. Why? Read on here…
4. Watch your alcohol intake. Reduce or eliminate. Not only is alcohol a depressant, but it also depletes the body of important nutrients. Specifically related to anxiety, it drains the body of magnesium and calcium. These two minerals are naturally calming. If you are having issues sleeping at night due to anxiety, it may behoove of you to look into taking plant-based magnesium and calcium supplements prior bedtime. (Do not take with food as it will disrupt digestive acids needed for digestion).
5. Therapy. Talk to someone. Do not be afraid to talk to someone you can trust. Really…. Stress is highly acid forming. It is for this reason that nervous eaters generally have indigestion (or stomachaches). It prohibits our bodies from correctly producing the digestive juices needed to breakdown and assimilate foods. When you hold something in, it tends to build inside (imagine the person that explodes, after years of internal angst). Just the same way that acid-forming foods can cause and accelerate disease, so can stress. If you were to look at twins with similar diets, one with a highly stressful job, (the other, not so much), the twin with the stressful job is bound to not only look older, but be prone to more disease.
* I have been exceptionally fortunate to have two of the best friends growing up (K and T). K, never fully understood my reasoning behind my exaggerated fear of death, but never judged, nor scoffed at the strangeness (trust me, I thought it was pretty darn strange). How many 17 year olds do you know that are legitimately terrified of having heart failure? Bizarre. *
* T, on the other hand, had the innate knack for calming me down, even when we were 3,000 miles apart. I could call her and my anxiety levels would drop substantially. T, will make one heck of a nutritional therapist. *
What is my point…?
Some “friends” will judge. Some do not. Put yourself in a positive atmosphere. I am so happy that both of these young women were in my life, then… and now…
If you do not have a K, or a T, find someone you can talk to. I recommend that every person, young and old, have some sort of “therapist”, periodically. Why not? (Note: Talking is good. Dwelling is not).
Here are a few tips regarding Healthy Ways to Combat Stress.
6. The Pill. Are you on it? If you are experiencing anxiety and you are on the pill, please take note that anxiety (and depression, etc.) is very common in young women on the pill. Not only does it unnaturally regulate hormone levels, but it forces your body to stop doing what it was naturally meant to do. I am by no means advocating unsafe sex, but you must be willing to weigh the risks and benefits (there are options outside of The Pill).
Important note: If you are on “The Pill” for your skin (i.e. Acne), keep in mind that it is more than likely related to Candida, and it would be advantageous to explore those options as well.
7. Caffeine. Put down that cup off coffee, tea, chocolate, etc. Caffeine revs the body up, preparing you to take “flight” (should a bear pop out of your bedroom closet). Caffeine will keep you on edge, and feed you nervous energy. Check this article out for Healthier Alternatives to Coffee.
Looking for natural energy?
8. Try food combining, in addition to focusing on wholesome and natural foods. The less time your body has to devote to digesting, the more energy you have to think. Also check out this article about the importance of breakfast, and how it correlates to digestion.
9. More supplements?
Supplement with Vitamin B.
When you are stressed, the body’s reserve of B vitamins is depleted. This can lead to a slew of adverse events, specifically anxiety. Look into supplementing with a plant based vitamin B supplement.
Supplementing… what’s the deal?
Supplementing need not be a long-term deal. I supplemented for a few years until my body no longer required vitamin supplementation outside of my diet. In addition to juicing, my diet enables me to infuse my body with the nutrients necessary to feel energized, calm, cool, and collected.
Exercise is so important to combating stress. It increases oxygen to the heart, and naturally aids in the detoxification process.
How do you feel after a run?
How do you feel after a bowl of ice cream?
I am guessing that the run feels better, and entirely more energizing. Do not confuse the feelings. While sugar may be temporarily energizing, it is of no value to the body. Sugar is a fake energy (and extremely acid-forming). It offers no nutritional value, and tricks the body into thinking that it can keep running, when in fact it is running on cheap fuel. (Cheap fuel does more harm in the long term).
Once you learn to manage your insomnia, be it through nutrition alone, or supplements, you will learn just how pertinent sleep is in eliminating anxiety, in addition to other ailments. A good nights rest means better concentration. A well-rested body is less likely to reach for sugar, or junk foods. Additionally, sleep is highly alkalizing, giving the body ample time to heal, and recuperate. A heavy sleeper is someone who’s body knows the value of using that time to fight off unwanted disease, as well as anxiety. If you are not allergic to ragweed, sip chamomile tea prior to bed.
12. And finally, back to your food selections… Be cautious of the foods you choose to nourish your body with. I used to be a huge fish eater. I ate fish 4-5x a week until realizing that not only was I more than likely eating a ton of mercury (swordfish), but the fish I was eating (mostly farmed) was feeding on foods that I was trying to avoid myself (a.k.a– soy, gluten, etc.). I was shocked to find out that I was indirectly eating foods I was intentionally eliminating. It is also important to be getting ample fat… but the RIGHT fat! Check out this article about fat.
Oh… and guess what? Sure I get stressed like your average 20-something year old… sure I still am not in love with flying (hey, I like my feet on the ground), but the rest… history
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Do you have any tips to add?
What is your story?
P.S. Thanks T, and K for being amazing best friends, (My sister and Mom for always being supportive and honest)… and my boyfriend… for loving me just the way I am now. Vegan, and all.
~ – ~ – ~ This would also be a nice time to mention a special program my friend Marlena is hosting concerning Emotional Eating. She is wonderful. I suggest you check it out at: www.emotionaleatingfreedom.com and decide if this program is right for you.