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Issue 17 Out Now

My Experience: Eating Healthy Helped Tone Down My Anxiety

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I have heard the phrase, you are what you eat ever since I was a little. Teachers, television programs, and health advocates alike would all emphasize the importance of healthy eating, playing videos with dancing fruit and passing out pamphlets with colorful food pyramids on them.

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But as grateful as I was for the rare break from the school routine, the message was always immediately lost as I would scurry off to my lunch consisting of all the delicious food they just spent an hour cautioning against.

Even as an adult, while I carried these early seeds of the message to eat right with me, it was always in the back of my mind, never quite manifesting into better eating habits.

On what I believed to be an unrelated note, I have suffered from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) my entire life. Simple everyday tasks like going grocery shopping, talking on the phone, or attending parties or social events would elicit, what I felt was an irrational and unfounded response of panic and worry.

For a while, I accepted it as a fact of life, operating with it like it was just another layer on the hill of obstacles standing between me and my goals — obstacles that made the climb more difficult, but the gold that much more rewarding.

But lately, as I find myself listening to the advocates around me and taking their advice to eat healthily, I noticed my fact of life seems less and less like a fact and more something that might be significantly reduced through healthy eating habits.

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I did not immediately realize I was less anxious than normal until speaking with a few health-conscious colleagues at work.

Because I have also experienced chronic hives for over a year and was sick of it, I spent months taking drastic steps to find my trigger to avoid it in the future.

I largely cut out sugar, dairy, meat, caffeine, and alcohol and started testing out vegan alternatives and recipes.

This was a practice she and many of my other colleagues were familiar with, but of all, her sister had the most recent eating habit transition. She shared how her sister was sick very often (which I too was) and suffered from anxiety as well and how she noticed these issues that plagued her for years were less of an issue with the change. That is when it dawned on me that the same was true for me. Not only were the hives less frequent, but so were the sickness, anxiety.

This made me curious about the depth of those platitudes that reserved space in the back of my head; You are what you eat. Health is wealth. Etc.

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Experiencing the evidence that there is a strong correlation between what I eat and my immunity and mental health makes me wonder what else could be the result of the eating habits I don’t know about?

I have ignored the advice from many on the importance of eating healthy. But it was not until I experienced such a significant decrease in anxiety, a problem that has troubled me my entire life that the message finally got through.

Everyone is different, and there are often other factors that contribute to mental issues such as trauma and genetics that might require different approaches.

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However, in my case, I was surprised to learn changing my diet helped me and made a huge difference.

While I find the incentive to eat healthy to minimize, hives, anxiety, depression, and sickness enough to sustain a long-term change, I recognize it is a journey and will not be without challenges and sugared relapses. However, unlike those past plantings, I believe the message this time because I experienced the benefits for myself. I’m confident better-eating habits will continue to manifest now that I have reserved a spot for it at the forefront of my mind.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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