Is there a food that’s adding to your anxiety?
That’s the question I was asking myself recently, when I started looking up some of the stuff that can happen when you are intolerant or sensitive to a food (or food group, like dairy or nightshades or whatever).
And there it was listed – a possible side effect of a food intolerance can include anxiety.
Plus other stuff was listed. A food intolerance can give you headaches. It can make your tummy hurt. It can make your muscles and joints sore. It can make you really tired.
And of course all of those things can add to anxiety because our busy, protective anxiety brains may decide those things indicate other health issues.
Important. Please Read ⬇️
Now. Before we go one step further – I am not a medical professional of any type.
Please do not take anything I write here as a substitution for proper medical advice and care.
If you are in a crisis or need help, please call 911, go to the nearest emergency room or call the National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline at 800.950.NAMI or text NAMI to 741741.
No Cheating. Sorry.
Now, assuming that you have proper medical care, but are living with anxiety, one thing you can do if you believe food is worsening your symptoms is to eliminate the food and track how you feel.
I’ve seen conflicting reports on how long you should eliminate a food from your diet, but in most cases, two weeks to 21 days seems to be the minimum recommendation.
And certainly, if you start to notice a big difference in how you’re feeling, you can continue longer.
I don’t want to get bossy about how to do an elimination diet and/or adding food back in, so if this is your first time trying an elimination diet, be sure to research all that’s involved. (There are about 80 million books on this topic.)
But two tips: Nope, when you are doing a true elimination diet, you can not cheat. You can’t have just one Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or one piece of pizza or one bite of anything if it contains the food you’re eliminating and get proper results.
Also, only eliminate one food at a time, otherwise, you won’t know specifically what food is potentially contributing to your anxiety without way more investigative work beyond the scope of this free printable.
A FREE Printable Tracker
I made this free printable food elimination tracker for you if you suspect that something you are eating is perhaps making your anxiety symptoms worse. (I say eating, but it could be drinking, like in the case of caffeine).
To use the tracker, simply track the date, anything going on physically, anything going on emotionally, any other thoughts, and rate your anxiety.
(You can print out as many of the tracker pages as you need, but I recommend you only check in once or twice a day, so this doesn’t become burdensome. You’re already shifting your diet and that takes a lot of effort.)
Based on my experience – give this time. It may take a week or more to see any changes. Drink lots of water. Maybe take some epsom salt baths to help your body detoxify.
*Again – I am not a medical professional.*
But, if you notice that you are feeling better without that thing – a food, food group, caffeine, sugar, etc., in your body – Wahoo. Because you feel better!
But also, don’t just decide – “OK, gluten is BAD forever” or whatever.
Just use this as some information, and proceed responsibly.
You know how to do that. You’re a grown up person and you’ve made it this far, with ANXIETY, so just keep going.
Talk to a doctor or medical professional. Tell your shrink. Call your mom.
And be proud of yourself even if you tried this experiment and your anxiety didn’t get better.
You are actively working to take good care of yourself, and that’s HUGE. High five.
Right now, it’s like this.
Finally, sometimes, when we have anxiety, we keep throwing figurative spaghetti at the wall trying to see if anything will stick.
Sometimes, we try so many things, that “fixing” our anxiety becomes a part-time job.
A popular phrase in meditation circles is “Right now, it’s like this.”
I like to remember that when I go into Fix-It Mode, because sometimes, there just really isn’t much we can do to “fix” our anxiety.
We can take good care of ourselves, and we can go to our appointments, and if we take meds, we can stay on top of that, and we can ask for help, but we may not be able to “cure” our anxiety altogether, even if we pray or take medicine or douse ourselves in essential oils, or exercise, or meditate, or do deep breathing, or pet a therapy llama or stop eating sugar.
This free printable is just one tool that I made to see if it would help me feel a little better, and I wanted to share it with you.
But that’s all it is – a tool.
Again, if you are in any kind of crisis, please call 911, go to the nearest emergency room or call the National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline at 800.950.NAMI or text NAMI to 741741.
Sending you so much love,
Looking for more? Join me over on Instagram, (@karastephensonanderson) where we chat connection over perfection, anxiety, overwhelm and doing the best we can.
NEED HELP ORGANIZING YOUR FOOD LIFE? I GET IT. Check out my meal planning system ebook here