Diets that Help Anxiety


Hello, Diana42:

I am no expert, but I never heard of a diet that helps “reduce depression and social anxiety and [increase] mental energy.” Is there data to support the premise?

I started to read about the FODMAP diet yesterday. As I understand it, it was created by Australian researchers as a method to help control irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), something I also have since childhood. It’s like a bookend to my social anxiety. Are the restrictions difficult to follow? Are there hidden sources of FODMAPs that you’ve discovered?

(For example, when I was allergic to wheat, the allergist had me avoid it for a year; I quickly discovered that wheat is ubiquitous, even as an ingredient in soy sauce! I had to take my own bottle of tamari with me to Asian restaurants, as it’s wheat-free.)

Thanks for your help, Naturally~Nervous


I know this can spark a fierce discussion: social anxiety is a mental problem rather than physical, unless one is biologically sick social anxiety is a mental problem, the proof: sa is overcome by changing the mind(thinking pattern, attitudes, beliefs, assumption, schemas, whatever) without altering the body, the only necessary condition for the body is that it must be biologically healthy during the process. The state of body can affect the state of mind. I know of real healthy people in this world who successfully overcame social anxiety without any med or diet plan, i agree that there r some who NEED some psychiatric drugs IF they dont respond to therapy well. hope this is useful

let me be more defensive: a socially anxious person will have to take care of any bodily problems that arise on the way like a broken bone or a obese or thin body.


The difficulties with Social Anxiety Disorder are not just behavioral. There are several identified physical, 3-D brain problems associated with Social Anxiety Disorder.

  1. RESULTS: Mean D(2) receptor binding potential was significantly lower in the subjects with social phobia than in the comparison subjects. Within the social phobia group, there was a nonsignificant correlation of binding potential with the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale score.
    From the Abstract of: “Low dopamine D(2) receptor binding potential in social phobia.”
    Schneier FR1, Liebowitz MR, Abi-Dargham A, Zea-Ponce Y, Lin SH, Laruelle M.

  2. From the Social Anxiety Research Clinic website:
    The efforts of our research team have resulted in reports showing that medications belonging to the class known as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRI’s, are effective in the treatment of social anxiety disorder.

Nerve cells don’t actually touch each other - there’s a microscopically small, teeny-tiny gap between each cell. In order to send signals along the line of cells to the target end cell, a small amount of a chemical messenger, called a neuro-transmitter, is sent across the gap.

Serotonin is a neuro-transmitter that sends a calming message from neuron to neuron. The body, like a good recycler, then breaks down the neuro-transmitter into its component parts and sends them back upstream, ready for the next message. This process is called “reuptaking”. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) are a class of anti-depressant that helps with depressions and the anxieties, including Social Anxiety Disorder, by interfering with reuptaking. This means that more serotonin sticks around, increasing the amount in the downstream neuron.

It also effects myofascial pain syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome by making more serotonin available to muscles so that they calm down. Lower serotonin levels = high nerve and muscle tone; lower serotonin levels = lower nerve and muscle tone, aka: relaxation - ahhhh!

Dopamine and serotonin are very real 3-D physical aspects of SA. The fact that anti-depressants increase the number of neurons and neural connections in the hippocampus is also a real physical aspect of SA and other brain-seated disorders treated with SSRIs. Unfortunately, nothing you eat can cross the blood-brain barrier without it being broken down into its constituent molecules first. There’s no serotonin-increasing diet. I suspect the same is true for dopamine.


Scientists dont really know for sure that the changes in the brain is the CAUSE of social anxiety or the EFFECT of social anxiety and the reason is that in various studies significant brain changes have been observed in people treated with THERAPY alone, just as observed in people treated with medication. Bio amine theory has got more to do with our understanding of how the brain works and that understanding is very limited.

Scientists dont know for fact how the antidepressants work, but because it is proven to be better than a PLACEBO in most clinical trials it is accepted in the medical community as a treatement, remember most such clinical trials are some how done by people eager to prove the bio amine theory hence the studies are inconclusive so we should not jump to conclusions.

a more rational, unbiased and multi dimentional research is required which considers both neurotransmitters theory as well as the psychological theory to get a better understanding of the mental health problems such as social anxiety disorder, depression and all.

But experience has shown that not all people respond well to a particular approach so some times medications can be life saving and in some cases therapy, and ya irrespective of the competition among medicine and therapy one thing is known for fact that the gains made with the help of therapy last LONGER as compared to medicine, medicine only works as long as one is taking it and also we should also consider the side effects, this idea is supported by significant studies.

We can change the feelings and sensations with the help of medication but how can we change the underlying beliefs and dysfunctional assumption, the mind set, the mental change is completely a psychological process even if it is supplemented by medicine.


Actually there are many diets as well as vitamins that have shown promising ANTIDEPRESSANT effects, here r a few, Nicotinic acid (vitamin B-3) has shown to be effective in lifting depression by some NUTRITION oriented physicians also cashew nut is claimed to be showing antidepressant effects by the same people.

ABOVE ALL regular exercise has without any doubt SIGNIFICANT effects on our moods and health. When we exercise ENDORPHINS are released which have their respective effects and also SEX plays a significant role in the overall well being of the mind and the body.

About the discussion on caffeine, nicotine, processed food, etc how a particular thing affects our health keeping in mind all the objective effects its ultimately a subjective thing, every one responds differently to everything, eg. caffeine doed not have similar effects on everyone and same is true for other such things.

p.s eating a balanced diet, staying away from carcinogens, staying biologically healthy and doing regular exercise and above all understanding sa is the secret to a better life for a sa sufferer.

REMEMBER health is a necessary but not sufficient condition to overcome social anxiety but being healthy as well as working actively on overcoming social anxiety are the necessary as well as sufficient conditions to overcome social anxiety!


Regarding diets to cure or help with the treatment for anxiety, I know there’s a book about it called “The Mood Cure”. It recommends a bunch of supplements, but it says it will only work if you also eat healthy, avoiding all kinds of processed sugar and other unhealthy stuff. I tried it for some weeks with only the supplements and it didn’t seem to have any effect, but maybe I should really eat healthy for it to work (or maybe by just eating healthy I could get the full benefit, since the book kinda of seemed like a way to endorse certain brands of supplements and the author has even a site where she sells this kind of stuff).

Btw, I’m addicted to coffee and have tried quitting it many times (I successfully did it for two years, but then went back, thinking I could drink just a little bit). It clearly makes me nervous and with a bad feeling in my mouth, chest and stomach that I can only get rid of by drinking more.

There’s always a bottle full of coffee in my house from early in the morning, and since my parents love it it’s really hard to ask them to stop making it to make it easier for me to quit.

(I’m aware that coffee addiction isn’t as hard as other addictions, but it isn’t so easy either, I’ve been drinking almost 3/4 of a jug everyday since I can remember).


For me, eating a really clean diet helped. I did something called raw before 4, where I ate mostly raw fruits and veggies before 4pm. You have to make sure to eat more food than you normally would though. So for breakfast usually a green smoothie and for lunch a HUGE salad. Snacks are usually fruit or veggies or nuts. Also, you really have to avoid coffee and soda and that sort of thing for it to work. Then, after four you can eat whatever. Not that that’s the opportunity to pig out though. After a while, you stop craving the gross stuff and I found that even when I started to allow myself to eat whatever I still ate really healthy because my body just felt better eating better stuff. It really helped my anxiety because eating clean just helped my thinking to become more clear. Also, I had a lot more energy and just felt all around better


Hi, I’ve been using the low FodMap diet, and it has helped me. I find that eating lots of veg and fruit, nuts etc, and avoiding grains, meat and processed foods to be the best. Please also check out my site: I give out lots of useful information there. Thanks! John


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Just want to share this video by Dr. Axe which I’ve found helpful:


Artichoke hearts (canned 1/8 cup hearts)
Asparagus (1 spear, moderate) *contains moderate amounts of excess fructose. …
Bean sprouts (1/2 cup)
Beans, green (12 beans)
Beetroot (2 slices) (3 slices, moderate) *contains moderate amounts of Oligos (fructans and GOS). …
Bell Pepper green/red (1/2 cup) are some of the foods which might be useful for you


I think reducing sugar and adding more green vegetables to the diet can help in getting rid of anxiety.


I tried eating healthy by cutting back on sugar and fat for about 3 weeks then I got lazy and started slacking. But, when I was on that diet, I had more energy and I was hardly anxious. For those 3 weeks, I got anxious probably once a week and it only lasted for the day; the next day I wasn’t anxious anymore. I went back to my old diet, and I’m anxious more. Only now I’m seeing that my diet helped a lot at least it seems that way. I’m going to try to keep that diet not only for anxiety but for heath.


I think you should reduce your caffeine intake because caffeine can make your heart rate beat faster.(it does to me) You should also reduce your sugar intake which can cause the same problem as caffeine. I would recommend you to eat more vegetables and fruits. On the other hand you should stay away from junk food. Because you are what you eat. And junk food may make you feel depressed. The most important thing is don’t forget to do sports. You don’t need to pay for fitness saloon. Jogging daily is very helpful with anxiety and stress if it is supported with a healthy diet of course. For example I am trying to ride a bicycle in every week. And it really helps me. Also I don’t eat junk food from places like McDonald’s for a year. It has been a few months since I haven’t used my antidepressant but there is no problem for now. After all it is all about controlling your mind, not let it control you :kissing_heart:


Great advice. I find a lower carb, higher fat and protein diet work best for me. I feel better, have more energy and this leads to less stress. The downside is that I use starchy, sugary foods as a drug. When I get stress I tend to overdue food, alcohol, and caffeine which can lead to beating myself up and then a vicious cycle ensues. Diet is important but like meditation, handout reading, exercise, breathing, when I need it most I use it least. I am trying to change this but it is not always easy. best of luck


Can all this diet plan actually be helpful in reducing anxiety?:worried:


I find this encouraging. Currently I consume lots of caffeine and sugar. My sa has increased considerably since major life effects but also I recently turned 40. Wondering if diet and cutting sugar and caffeine will help?


Hi Aaron1,

To me it has been instrumental in my recovery from SA. Very low caffeine, one to two black tea a day and no sugar. I encourage you to experience it in you body and see how you respond to it.


In reference to your provided anxiety website. Can I eat beef in my diet?


Spot on Grace. I noticed the same for my anxiety. I mostly ate twice daily where I combined veggie sandwich with tuna. My body felt so good and thinking was clear. Eating clean and exercising really helps