How to Boost Your Mood and Manage Anxiety Using Food as Medicine

Stress, anxiety, and low mood can affect all of us at some point, and for some of us, it’s every day. Clinical nutritionist and guest blogger—Bri Clancy Olins—gives us some simple but effective tips to help you take hold of your anxiety and boost your mood every day.

Reduce stimulants like caffeine

I bet you’ve heard this one so much you’re sick of it, but it really helps!

Reducing your coffee to one per day and tea to one or two per day—or less if you are still feeling it impacts on your mood—is a great first step to reducing external contributors to anxiety. I also recommend completely eliminating those sugar-laden, caffeine-loaded energy and soft drinks!

Do I really have to cut back on caffeine?

Why is it a good idea to cut back on caffeine I hear you plead? Caffeine increases cortisol—i.e. our stress hormone—and it can make us feel jittery, on edge, and irritable and generally make other symptoms of anxiety worse.

What should I try instead of caffeine?

If you need a pick-me-up, why not opt for a refreshing, caffeine-free herbal tea with a bright and uplifting flavour, such as peppermint, ginger, or fennel. If you are a hardcore coffee fiend, why not try a roasted dandelion-root tea? It is dark and bitter like coffee, but has zero caffeine.

Eat breakfast!

We are all busy, but don’t let that get in the way of starting the day in a way that supports your mood, blood-glucose levels, and overall sets you up for a busy and productive day.

I recommend eating a breakfast rich in protein and fats, with a little complex carbohydrate. This will keep you fuller for longer, clear that mid-morning brain fog, and help keep your blood-glucose levels stable through the day.

My favourite anti-anxiety brekkies

My favourite breakfasts that tick all the boxes are:

  • Avocado on toast with a poached egg and a spoonful of sauerkraut on the side; or
  • A protein smoothie with a good quality protein powder, a banana or blueberries, and ¼ of an avocado, blended with coconut water

Eat anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant foods

Anxiety and low mood are often symptoms of inflammation or oxidative stress in the body, so including a lot of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant-rich foods in your diet can be a great way to both reduce the inflammation and level your mood.

Foods such as turmeric, ginger, good quality oily fish, and lots of fresh and brightly coloured vegetables such as leafy greens, beetroot, berries, broccoli, and purple cabbage are high in anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants.

While you’re on a roll, try to steer clear of foods that are known to cause inflammation such as gluten and dairy, and any foods that don’t agree with you as this will cut inflammation off at the source.

Stay hydrated

Your brain is made up of a startling 73% water! Allowing yourself to become dehydrated can lead to increased symptoms of low mood and anxiety such as light headedness, brain fog, and increased heart rate.

It’s normal to struggle with drinking enough water throughout the day, so I always recommend using a tracker app on your phone, even better if it comes with an alarm to remind you every hour!

Taking a water break not only keeps you hydrated, but gives your brain and mind a much-needed rest during the daily grind.

I’m here to help!

This list is not the be-all and end-all. As we know, mental health is a complex spectrum, and we all need help in different ways. If you are struggling, please reach out – you don’t have to do it alone. I would love to help you in your journey to health – just book your consultation online here. Bri x