How Does Anxiety Affect Eating Disorders
Eating disorders and anxiety have something of a complex relationship.
While its true they commonly occur together and involve some overlapping symptoms, neither directly causes the other. Eating disorders also dont begin solely as an attempt to maintain control over challenging, painful, or unknown circumstances though a need for control can absolutely play a part.
Many people living with both conditions notice symptoms of anxiety first, before symptoms of the eating disorder begin. Yet that doesnt mean anxiety causes eating disorders after all, not everyone who lives with anxiety will feel distress around food, or develop disordered eating habits.
Research from 2021 does suggest, however, that a co-occurring anxiety disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder may:
- help maintain symptoms and behaviors associated with eating disorders
- lead to more severe symptoms over time
In short, having anxiety doesnt mean youll develop an eating disorder. But if you have both conditions, they may play off each other and lead to worse symptoms.
Keep in mind, too, that while eating disorders can certainly involve extreme fear and worry around food and eating, food-related anxiety doesnt automatically translate to an anxiety condition.
Whats more, some people with eating disorders might have feelings of guilt and shame, dysphoria or a distorted body image, and diminished self-confidence but not anxiety.
One potential explanation lies in their shared risk factors.
Worried About Hypoglycemia See A Doctor
Your blood sugar is one of the easiest things to diagnose. You can take a simple blood test after fasting for 12 hours and have results in no time. So if you’re worried about your blood sugar, talk to your doctor.
Health Causes of Anxiety
Most people that suffer from anxiety worry that it has a physical cause. Although it is necessary to consult a physician in such matters, it is also possible that experience is a result of physical anxiety. In fact, one of the main problems affecting those with anxiety attacks is the constant, nagging feeling that the physical symptoms are too severe to be something as “harmless” as anxiety, and they often look for other explanations for why they may be feeling these symptoms.
First, you need to remember that anxiety causes you to think this way. Anxiety alters thought processes so that “worst case scenario” thinking is more common. In addition, anxiety symptoms can be incredibly severe, and genuinely mimic the symptoms of major health disorders. As much as it may seem hard to believe, your symptoms may not have an overt physical cause, and could simply be a result of anxiety.
But with regard to whether or not hypoglycemia can cause anxiety, the answer is a resounding “Yes.” In fact, anxiety is one of the main symptoms of hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia means that not enough glucose is reaching the brain, and this causes the brain a considerable amount of stress, which leads to nervousness and anxiety.
Foods That Increase Anxiety And Panic Attacks
This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may receive a small commission . Please see my full Disclosure policy
Are you eating foods that cause anxiety?
Its normal to feel occasional worry but excessive panic or anxiety can be debilitating.
Struggling with anxiety can stop you in your tracks and ruin future plans.
Often people dealing with anxiety have trouble shutting off that fight or flight nervous system response. Their bodies think they are in a stressful situation all day long.
If you can get the nervous system to relax, you can lower your anxiety.
Ive been using plant-based Anxie-T Supplement to help relax my nervous system and calm overthinking.
Its done a pretty good job of reducing my anxiety.
Symptoms of anxiety:
- The feeling of impending doom
- Increased heart rate
- Unrealistic worry
Sometimes the foods we are eating can trigger anxiety or increase our chance of having a panic attack. Not everyones body handles food the same way.
I personally can feel panic after too much caffeine or eating gluten which I dont normally do.
There has been a huge difference in my mental health since adjusting what foods Ive been eating so Im excited to share that with you!
Your gut is responsible for creating neurotransmitters that alter your mood, serotonin in particular.
If your gut has been bogged down by junk food or inflamed it can be difficult for it to make those happy neurotransmitters.
Read Also: How To Deal With Health Anxiety
Can Anxiety Make You Less Hungry
Temporarily, yes. Its not uncommon for acute or immediate stress to make you lose your appetite completely. Suppressing hunger may be your bodys way of focusing your mind on survival.
If stress continues, though, your body may produce more cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol can make you feel a desire to eat and can even make you crave certain kinds of foods.
What Is An Eating Problem
An eating problem is any relationship with food that you find difficult.
Many people think that someone with an eating problem will be over or underweight. People might also think that certain weights are linked to certain eating problems. Neither of these points are true.
Anyone can experience eating problems. This is regardless of age, gender, weight or background.
Food plays a significant part in our lives. Most of us will spend time thinking about what we eat. Sometimes you might:
- have cravings
- try to eat healthier.
Changing your eating habits like this every now and again is normal.
But if you feel like food and eating is taking over your life, it may become a problem.
Don’t Miss: How To Beat Anxiety And Depression
Feeling Cold All The Time
If you constantly feel cold, not eating enough food could be the cause.
Your body needs to burn a certain number of calories in order to create heat and maintain a healthy, comfortable body temperature.
In fact, even mild calorie restriction has been shown to lower core body temperature.
In a six-year controlled study of 72 middle-aged adults, those who consumed an average of 1,769 calories daily had significantly lower body temperatures than the groups who consumed 2,3002,900 calories, regardless of physical activity .
In a separate analysis of the same study, the calorie-restricted group experienced a decrease in T3 thyroid hormone levels, whereas the other groups did not. T3 is a hormone that helps maintain body temperature, among other functions .
In another study of 15 obese women, T3 levels decreased by as much as 66% during an eight-week period in which the women consumed only 400 calories per day (
Overall, the more severely you slash calories, the colder youre likely to feel.
Consuming too few calories can lead to a decrease in body temperature, which may be due in part to lower levels of T3 thyroid hormone.
Common Foods That Can Trigger Anxiety Symptoms
Food can have a powerful impact on mood, stress levels, and mental health. Some foods have been shown to cause or worsen the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other chronic mental-health conditions. While symptoms and triggers are unique to every individual, research studies have found several common foods that can induce anxiety.
High sugar intake has been linked to many different health conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure, and tooth decay. Sugar has also been linked to depression, mood swings, and symptoms of anxiety. The initial energy boost gained from eating sugar keeps many people craving sugary foods and drinks. However, once the energy boost has peaked, blood sugar levels drop quickly this leads to lethargy, low mood, and further cravings. The continual boosts and drops in blood sugar levels can trigger the release of adrenalin and cortisol into the bloodstream, causing anxiety and sometimes even panic attacks.
A balanced diet is essential for controlling anxiety, depression, and long-term mental health conditions. Eliminating or cutting down on foods known to trigger anxiety symptoms is an important step in managing chronic anxiety disorders. In addition, food sensitivities can precipitate a range of unpleasant symptoms that can mimic anxiety, so it’s important to talk to your doctor if you suspect specific foods may be causing you distress.
Also Check: How To Tell Anxiety From Depression
Low Carbs May Cause Anxiety
An April 2017 study published in the British Medical Journal Open explored the effects of fruit and vegetable consumption on psychological stress. Prior research shows increasing evidence that diet is linked to mental health, note the researchers. Results of the investigation revealed moderate daily intake of vegetables was tied to a lower incidence of stress, a finding consistent with earlier discoveries.
An older case report from March-April 2006 published in Psychosomatics and featured in the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute gives an account of a woman who had been successfully treated for panic attacks. After starting on the Atkins diet, a high-protein and low-carbohydrate eating plan, she suffered a recurrence of panic attacks, which had been resolved for some time. Upon quitting the diet and resuming consumption of carbohydrates, her symptoms gradually reduced and were completely gone after several days.
While the Psychosomatics case report involves only one person, it provides a real-life illustration of what studies such as the British Medical Journal Open have found. Healthy carbs, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, are loaded with nutrients that enhance wellness in innumerable ways. Any diet that restricts such an important food group is likely to have downsides. The bottom line is that low carbs may cause anxiety or at least increase the risk of the disorder.
Read more:7 Foods That Can Help Reduce Depression and Anxiety
Foods That Help With Depression
When you are dealing with depression, it can be a real struggle to take good care of yourself and your diet. But its such an important thing for you to do.
Research has shown that certain foods can actually help to boost your mood. These include:
- Foods that contain the amino acid, tryptophan, including eggs, spinach and salmon
- Foods that are rich in folic acid, including avocado and spinach
- Foods that are rich in omega-3 acids, including salmon and tuna
- Foods that contain vitamin B12, including fish, lean meat, poultry and breakfast cereal
Below, we have also listed a few quick and easy steps to introduce into your weekly routine, so that you can start eating more and eating better:
You May Like: How To Know You Have Anxiety
The 4 Worst Foods For Your Anxiety
Roughly 40 million Americans have an anxiety disorder. If you live with chronic stress or anxiety, you might spend much of your daily life managing it with tools like therapy, mindfulness, exercise, and anti-anxiety medication.
But did you know that anxiety may be triggered by certain foods we put in our bodies?
This isnt to say that these tools and approaches arent necessary for tackling anxiety theyre often healthy options for any persons lifestyle.
But if anxiety is still impacting your life, it might be worth it to consider whats on your plate.
Read on for four foods that may trigger your anxiety and suggestions for what to eat instead.
When To See A Doctor
People should see a doctor if their appetite loss persists for 2 weeks or more, or if they lose weight rapidly. A doctor can check for an underlying physical condition that may be causing symptoms.
If the loss of appetite is purely a result of stress, a doctor can suggest ways to manage the anxiety, including therapy and lifestyle changes.
They may also prescribe medication to those with chronic or severe anxiety.
Also Check: Can Anxiety Cause Heart Murmur
Tips To Manage Anxious Thoughts And Feelings
Treatment of anxiety after eating may require the guidance of a healthcare team. Anxiety itself is often a symptom, not just a condition. More serious concerns may be at hand that need treatment.
While you work with a healthcare professional to uncover the cause of your anxiety after eating, you can manage symptoms by trying the following:
What Causes Anxiety After Eating
- Many people report anxiety after eating.
- Some of this anxiety can be traced to breathing issues and GERD.
- Those with panic attacks or severe anxiety may be more likely to feel anxious after eating.
- There may also be issues with the gut that trigger this anxiety.
- Eating healthy can help, but decreasing anxiety overall is going to be the best choice in the long term.
Also Check: How Do Ssris Help Anxiety
Caffeine Can Increase Anxiety
Caffeine has a history of interrupting sleep and causing panic. It stimulates the nervous system and takes time to get filtered out by the liver.
Caffeine increases blood pressure, doubles the stress hormone cortisol and norepinephrine levels. Cutting caffeine can reduce stress on the nervous system and put a stop to panic attacks.
Always wean your way off caffeine instead of eliminating it all at once. It takes some time for your body to adjust if you have been drinking caffeine for a while.
Why Being Hungry May Make You Feel Anxious
To understand the relationship between hunger and anxiety, it helps to know how two different kinds of hunger operate. Physical hunger happens when your body needs food to keep producing energy. This kind of hunger is stimulated by your bodys biological processes, such as digestion and metabolism, and by hormonal processes, such as the release of cortisol and ghrelin, both of which can affect appetite.
When youre physically hungry, you may notice an uncomfortable feeling some researchers call empty hollow sensation or hunger pangs. You may feel clutching contractions in your stomach, which may be your bodys way of draining away any remaining food particles before your next meal. If your blood glucose level has dropped a bit, you may also feel weak, light-headed, irritable, shaky, or tired.
People can also feel a desire to eat at times when theyre not physically hungry. You may feel a kind of psychological hunger if youre used to eating at regular times, if youre in social situations where others are eating, or if you typically eat in response to emotional cues. Even seeing photos of food or smelling something cooking can stimulate a feeling of psychological hunger.
In animal studies, researchers found that blocking glucose in rats raised the level of stress hormones in their blood. The researchers discovered that rats had mood changes brought on by hypoglycemia and they began avoiding the chamber where they had received the glucose-blocker.
You May Like: What To Do When Your Anxiety Is High
If Hunger Makes Me Anxious Do I Have Hypoglycemia
Its normal for your blood glucose level to go up and down a bit at different times of day. If you feel uncomfortably hungry, your blood glucose level may be at a lower level.
Hypoglycemia is the medical term for low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia is much more common among people with diabetes. If youre experiencing hypoglycemia, you might feel:
It isnt unusual for someone with moderate hypoglycemia to have headaches or blurred vision. When hypoglycemia is severe, it can lead to seizures, coma, or even death.
Because hypoglycemia can be life-threatening when its severe, some people with diabetes develop a fear of hypoglycemia. This can make them feel especially anxious when they are hungry. Studies have found that people with a fear of hypoglycemia are more likely to eat more and exercise less, which can then lead to even more changes in their blood sugar levels.
You Have Trouble Sleeping And Are Tired All Day
While not sleeping enough has been linked to overeating throughout the day, not eating enough is also linked to sleep deprivation. You know the general formula. Exercise, good sleep, and eating right make for optimal health, but, hey, I am a college student too and I know how impossible committing to all three tasks and juggling classes is. Still, I do know sleep is incredibly important, especially when youre trying to keep your grades up. An easy way to make sure you get a good night sleep is by nourishing your body with the right foods.
Read Also: How To Get Over Separation Anxiety
Eating Too Many Fried Foods
Everyone has had a bad day at one time or another. Its normal that when youre hurt, you turn to the things that make you feel better.
The most common foods in these cases are:
However, how many times have you eaten these things and truly felt better?
The truth is, fried food doesnt just affect you in the moment. Afterward, you almost always feel the negative effects of what youve eaten.
Perhaps youre accustomed to these bad eating habits. This could be because you dont really know what these foods do to your mental health.
Fried foods are cooked with hydrogenated oils. They also contain trans fats which hurt your body and make you gain weight.
At the same time, theyre loosely associated with depression.
Also read: 6 Things You Should Start Doing to Lead a Healthier Life
An Anxiety Supplement To Help
Ive been using Anxie-T from Life Seasons for a while now and it really helps to relax the nervous system.
The plant-based ingredients help to calm an anxious mind and relax nerves.
Its a good alternative to using prescription medications for anxiety.
Let me know if you have tried Anxie-T and are seeing a difference in your anxiety levels.
Don’t Miss: How Long Can Anxiety Last
You Feel Cold All The Time
Speaking from experience, if I dont have breakfast before my morning class, then I might as well not go because my mind will be wandering off to my growling stomach and I wont be able to concentrate. As mentioned before, if your body doesnt obtain the glucose it needs , you may experience impaired thinking, learning, and memorizing.