These Foods Might Be Increasing Your Anxiety, According To Experts

Time to cut them off the shopping list.
Depressed woman on the rooftop eating dessert with coffee
martin-dm via Getty Images
Depressed woman on the rooftop eating dessert with coffee

Anxiety is a very common problem – but what if you could help reduce it just by changing your diet slightly?

While this might not work for everyone, previous studies have suggested that changing your eating habits might give your brain the helping hand it needs to push away those anxious thoughts.

What shouldn’t you eat to reduce anxiety?

Experts told Delish magazine there are two main foods which could be fuelling your anxiety.


This one is hardly a surprise. A famous stimulant, most people know that if you have too much, you’ll probably find your mind and heart racing, while you also break out into a sweat and suddenly start feeling very restless. Not ideal.

According to registered dietitian Madelyn Larouche – the ADHD Dietitian – it’s worth avoiding caffeine altogether if you notice these symptoms in yourself after having a cup of joe.

She suggested going for herbal or black teas, as they usually have a lower caffeine content.

Processed foods

We all known fast food does not offer the best nutrition, but did you know that it can worsen your anxiety?

They might feel comforting to eat, but they do actually promote inflammation and lack important micronutrients which are key to your gut and brain function.

Processed food is not recommended if you want to decrease those anxious thoughts
Anastasiia Krivenok via Getty Images
Processed food is not recommended if you want to decrease those anxious thoughts

What should you eat to reduce anxiety?

OK, so that’s the stuff you should avoid – but what are you actually meant to be having?

Green tea

Yes, the hype around it is real. It is known for calming you down because it has an amino acide called L-theanine, which reduces cortisol, a stress hormone. It also contains antioxidants, which can improve your brain health, too.

Pumpkin seeds

You might not have seen this one coming.

Apparently, these seeds – so often overshadowed by its spooky companion vegetable – are a great source of magnesium, which in turn manages cortisol.

You can also find it in other nuts and seeds, too.

Complex carbohydrates

We’re talking quinoa, beans, starchy vegetables and oats – anything which takes longer for you to digest to prevent sugar crashes.

Carbs also stimulate serotonin too, which helps to regulate mood.

Fermented food

Yoghurt, it’s your time.

Megan Hilbert, of Top Nutrition Coaching, told Delish magazine that Kefir, kimchi and kombucha all help keep your gut and brain happy.

She explained: “90-95% of our serotonin is made in the gut and this neurotransmitter plays an important role in mood regulation.”


Another one we’ve all heard hyped-up as the latest superfood, it turns out these innocent little fruits are actually worth nibbling on due to their nutrients.

That’s because they contain anthocyanins, which reduce neuroinflammation, which is linked to high anxiety levels.

Fatty fish

Good news for your smoked salmon (and cream cheese) bagel: fatty fish are in, because the Omega-3 fatty acids they contain are great for reducing inflammation.

Larouche told Delish: “Researchers have found that cortisol depletes our omega-3 stores, so by incorporating sources of omega-3—like salmon, tuna, avocado, walnuts, and flax seeds—we are helping our bodies combat some of the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety.”