Therapy Soup readers know that we believe body, mind and soul are intricately linked and that a holistic approach to treatment for mental illness and/or addiction (or any health or personality issue) is truly necessary.

We’ve posted quite a few articles on the importance of nutrition in the treatment of mental health issues (most recently, this piece on Martha Herbert’s revolutionary whole-body treatment approach for autism). Now we’d like to tell you about a nutritional approach for the treatment of anxiety.

Trudy Scott has had her own personal journey with anxiety, starting in her mid-thirties. She says, “My anxiety was just awful and I had feelings of doom for no reason, a pounding heart in the middle of the night and at various times during the day, excessive unfounded worry and feelings of being overwhelmed, avoidance of social situations, panic attacks (I had three in total and would not wish one on my worst enemy) and one throat constriction episode.

I had hormone imbalances and suffered from terrible PMS. I also experienced adrenal burnout. Of course, I had all the sugar cravings (I was a huge chocoholic) that so often go with mood and hormonal problems.”

Trudy discovered that it was not only stress and overworking that were causing her anxiety symptoms, but also her so-called healthy vegetarian diet. Eventually, what she learned about diet, nutritio, and anxiety led her to write her first book,”The Antianxiety Food Solution: How The Foods You Eat Can Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind, Improve Your Mood, And End Cravings.

She’s a certified nutritionist and the immediate past president of the board of directors of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and also serves as a Special Advisor to the board. She also spent two years working with nutritional psychologist Julia Ross, author of “The Mood Cure.”

She also consults with individual women who need individualized advice about how to address their own nutrition needs (you can learn more at her one-on-one consulting site, everywomanover29.)  Trudy is knowledgeable about both diet and supplements but what really shines in the “Antianxiety Food Solution” is an approach that is personally tailored to your specific needs.

The book contains simple tests you can take to determine if you have any food intolerances or allergies which may be not only triggering anxiety symptoms but also wreaking havoc on your digestion (remember the brain-gut connection we’ve blogged about here in reference to schizophrenia, here and here in reference to autism and serotonin).

Although some mental health professionals believe there isn’t proof of the link between behavior, mental health and diet, today most current research shows there is definitely a very important correlation if not an outright causal relationship.

Think about it: If you’ve ever slammed down some coffee or a caffeinated (and heavily sugared) drink to “get you going” you know that your pulse, heart rate and overall energy levels get a “rush.” That rush, which over time will weaken the adrenal glands, can also be experienced as anxiety. But the book goes far deeper. It explores the relationship between the bodily levels of important chemicals such as serotonin, GABA, and endorphins and diet and offers suggestions on how to increase your production of these feel-good chemicals.

The book’s dietary suggestions largely stress a non-vegetarian diet, which many people today, especially women, seem to have an aversion to. As a former vegetarian (and former vegan), like Trudy, I’ve found that eating organic, minimally produced animal foods along with a mixture of good fats, living/raw and cooked vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and seeds seems to give me the most energy and feeling of well-being.

Though I eat far smaller amounts of animal foods than she recommends, I have been moving towards a similar approach (in part based on some recommendations of the Weston Price Foundation) to try to help with stress and burn-out.

In order to review the book, I took all the tests inside and I’m glad I did. I learned that taking B6 and GABA might be a good choice to help me feel less stressed and burned out and that taking tryptophan or 5-HTP might be a good choice to help me get to sleep at a reasonable hour (I’m both a night-owl and an early-bird and rarely get enough sleep, even when exhausted I find it challenging to get to bed before 1:00 AM).

I’ve started taking the B6 and the GABA and though it’s only been two weeks, I do feel less burned out even though my workload has recently increased! (I haven’t tried the tryptophan yet, I wanted to be able to isolate my experience with just these two supplements so I could be more accurate when assessing their effect on me.)

I especially like that the author has referenced all her information so you can see for yourself why she makes the recommendations she does. I also like that the information, while comprehensive, is accessible and easy to understand.

She covers so many topics:

Table of Contents

Introduction

My Story
Anxiety Statistics and Facts
Causes of Anxiety
What Is a Natural Approach and Why Use It?
Overview of the Book

Chapter 1: Figure Out Your Optimum Antianxiety Diet

The Antianxiety Food Solution Diets

Antianxiety Food Solution Diet 1: Gluten Free
Antianxiety Food Solution Diet 2: Gluten Free and Dairy Free
Antianxiety Food Solution Diet 3: Grain Free and Dairy Free
Antianxiety Food Solution Diet 4: Traditional Foods

Foods to Include

Eat Real, Whole, Good-Quality Foods
Eat Frequently Enough
Eat Quality Animal Protein

Red Meat
Poultry and Eggs
Fish and Other Seafood

Eat Nonstarchy Fresh Vegetables
Eat Fresh Fruit
Eat Good Fats
Keep Hydrated
Eat Legumes
Eat Starchy Fresh Vegetables
Eat Gluten-Free Whole Grains
Consume Dairy
Eat Whole Grains That Contain Gluten

Foods to Avoid

Avoid Empty Foods
Other Foods You May Need to Avoid

Eat Bonus Foods
Recipe and Food Resources
Wrapping Up

Chapter 2: Avoid Sugar and Control Blood Sugar Swings

The Harmful Effects of Sugar and Sweeteners
Sugars and Sweeteners Defined
Where Sugar Is Found
Artificial Sweeteners
What to Use Instead of Unhealthy Sugars and Artificial Sweeteners
Control Blood Sugar Swings

Benefits of Controlling Blood Sugar Swings
Simple Dietary Changes to Help Control Blood Sugar Swings
Supplements

How Quickly You Can Expect Improvements
If You Have a Sugar or Carb Addiction and Can’t Quit

Chapter 3. Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine

Coffee and Caffeine

Caffeine and Anxiety
Other Reasons to Consider Giving Up Caffeine
How to Quit Caffeine and What to Drink Instead
If You Do Want to Drink Coffee

Alcohol

Nutritional Deficiencies Due to Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol and Low Blood Sugar
Alcohol Sensitivity
How to Quit Alcohol

Nicotine

Nicotine and Anxiety
How to Quit Smoking

How Quickly You Can Expect Improvements

Chapter 4. Address Problems with Gluten and Other Foods

Why Food May Be Affecting Your Mood
True Food Allergies
Food Sensitivities or Delayed Food Reactions
Problems with Gluten

Gluten, Anxiety, and Other Mood Problems
Gluten and the Digestive System

Testing for Gluten Sensitivities

Two-Week Gluten Elimination-Challenge Trial
Lab Tests for Gluten Sensitivity

Salivary Antigliadin Antibodies
IgG Antibodies for Gluten-Containing Grains
Elevated Thyroid Antibodies

Testing for Celiac Disease

Alternatives to Grains That Contain Gluten
If Gluten Isn’t a Problem
Problems with Dairy Consumption
Problems with Other Foods
Problems with All Grains and Starchy Vegetables
Using Amino Acids to Reduce Cravings
Allergies and Anxiety Due to Low Blood Histamine
How Quickly You Can Expect Improvements

Chapter 5. Improve Your Digestion

The Digestive Process

Why Good Digestion and Absorption Are Important
Using Your Stool as a Clue to Your Digestive Function

Eating Guidelines for Good Digestion

Eat Foods That Promote Good Digestion and Skip Poor-Quality Food
Change Your Eating Habits

Causes of Poor Digestion and How to Improve Your Digestion

Low Levels of Stomach Acid or Pancreatic Enzymes

Testing for Low Stomach Acid and Pancreatic Enzymes
How to Correct Low Stomach Acid or Low Pancreatic Enzymes

Large Intestine Issues
Bacterial Imbalance or Parasites
Candida Overgrowth

Testing for Bacterial Imbalance, Parasites, and Candida
Controlling Candida and Increasing Beneficial Bacteria

Foods and Nutrients for Healing a Damaged Digestive System
Liver or Gallbladder Problems
How Quickly You Can Expect Improvements

Chapter 6. Balance Brain Chemistry with Amino Acids

GABA

Steps to Raise GABA Levels

Serotonin

Steps to Raise Serotonin Levels

Catecholamines

Steps to Raise Catecholamine Levels

Endorphins

Steps to Raise Endorphin Levels

Testing for Levels of Amino Acids
Drug of Choice
Guidelines for Supplementing with Amino Acids
Amino Acid Precautions
How Quickly You Can Expect Improvements

Chapter 7. Address Pyroluria or Low Levels of Zinc and Vitamin B6

Prevalence of Pyroluria and Co-occurring Disorders
Testing for Pyroluria

Pyroluria Urine Test
Zinc Taste Test
Vitamin B6 Testing
Fatty Acid Testing
Comprehensive Metabolic Profile

Zinc, Vitamin B6, and Fatty Acids for Pyroluria

Zinc Supplementation
Food Sources of Zinc
Vitamin B6 Supplementation
Food Sources of Vitamin B6
Fatty Acids for Pyroluria
Other Nutrients for Pyroluria

How Quickly You Can Expect Improvements

Chapter 8. Other Nutrients, Hormone Imbalances, Toxins, Medications, and Lifestyle Changes

Basic Supplements

Multivitamin and Multimineral with B Vitamins
Iron
Vitamin C

Individual Nutrients for Anxiety

Extra B Vitamins
Magnesium and Calcium
Vitamin D
Omega-3s and Omega-6s
Theanine and Lactium

Hormone Imbalances

Adrenal Dysfunction
Thyroid Dysfunction
Sex Hormone Imbalances in Women

Reduce Your Exposure to Toxins

Toxins in the Home
Heavy Metals

Understand the Effects of Medications

Make Important Lifestyle Changes

Do Some Exercise, Preferably Outdoors
Get Enough Sleep
Consider Therapy and Support Groups
Set Aside Time for Relaxation

Take Up Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, or Meditation
Take a Real Vacation Every Year
Try Guided Imagery
Other Techniques That May Help

Parting Words

Appendices

1. Sue’s Story
2. Food, Mood, Energy, Cravings, and Sleep Log

Resources

Internet Resources for Healthy Eating and Living
Lab Tests
Recommended Reading

Nutritional Healing
Food, Cooking, and Cookbooks

References

Richard and I give the Anti-Anxiety Food Solution 5 1/2 cups of soup—we really loved this book and plan to recommend it to patients with anxiety.

 

 


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    Last reviewed: 13 Sep 2012

APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2012). Calm Your Anxiety With Good Food. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 24, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapy-soup/2012/06/calm-your-anxiety-with-good-food/

 

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