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5 of the Worst Foods & Drinks for Anxiety

June 8, 2022

Coping with anxiety often requires us to make changes in our diet. And while there is no form of diet that can cure anxiety, watching what you eat and drink can make a difference.

Here are 5 foods and drinks you should steer clear or eat only in small portions if you struggle with anxiety.


1. Sugar


Sugar is everywhere in our diet. We all love indulging our sweet tooth with sugary treats. But just as much as we love it, our anxiety does too.

A 2019 study has found out that added sugars are associated with higher levels of anxiety in adults over 60 years of age. Added sugar can cause our blood sugar to spike and crash which can lead to our energy to also go on a rollercoaster ride of up and down.

Consequently, when our blood sugar crashes, our body tries to bring it up by pumping out epinephrine (adrenaline) which can leave you feeling cranky and anxious afterwards.


2. Alcohol


Many people try to self-medicate with alcohol in hopes of relieving symptoms of anxiety

Interestingly, mild amounts of alcohol can stimulate the neurotransmitter GABA in our body and cause a feeling of relaxation. However, heavy drinking can deplete GABA, leading to feelings of panic and increased tension.

If you are familiar with the term “hangxiety” or feelings of anxiety during a hangover, you may also realize that when your body recovers from a night of drinking, hangover takes over and creates a state of physiological distress. This can lead to an increase in cortisol levels, blood pressure and heart rate in our body — symptoms that also happen during anxiety.


3. Coffee


Can coffee cause anxiety? According to experts, not really. But caffeine in coffee can worsen symptoms in people already prone to anxiety.

Caffeine has been shown to increase alertness by blocking adenosine, a brain chemical that makes you feel tired, while simultaneously triggering the release of adrenaline, a hormone known to increase energy. In high doses, this process can induce anxiety symptoms and people with panic disorder or anxiety are especially sensitive.


4. Fried Foods


Fried chicken, fries, and chips, in the first place, have little nutritional value. In addition, they are also difficult for the body to digest. And when our body is unable to digest fried foods, gastrointestinal complaints like gas, stomach pain, and diarrhea follow which produce symptoms that may trigger anxiety.

On the other hand, fried foods also disturb the balance of bacteria in the gut which can lead to inflammation in the body and changes in your mental state.


5. Processed Foods


Most processed foods are cheap. However, their true cost often comes later in your health.

Excessive salt intake used as preservatives and stabilizers in some canned soups, cured meats and frozen foods can raise your blood pressure and increase your heart’s workload which can trigger the body to produce adrenaline in the bloodstream. Not surprisingly, this increased release of adrenaline can result in anxiety.





Eliminating or reducing your intake of specific foods or drinks is an essential step in managing your symptoms of anxiety. Further, if you suspect food sensitivities that may be contributing to your distress, talk to your doctor so you get professional advice for your diet.


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