We’re all familiar with the concept of stress eating, but did you know that what you eat can actually cause you stress? The food that you eat and the way that you eat it, have a direct impact on your state of mind.

Some relationships between food and mood are obvious; coffee picks you up, chamomile calms you down, but there are many other things we consume that can have just as big of an effect on how you feel. Everyone reacts differently to what they eat and if you aren’t conscious of how foods affect you, you can wind up with food-induced anxiety and not even know it.

Here are 6 ways your diet is making you anxious:
Caffeine is the most commonly used psychoactive substance. We get used to our daily latté or matcha and eventually we stop noticing the subtleties of how it affects us. If you are prone to anxiety, drinking caffeine everyday has been proven to exacerbate the feeling by increasing stress hormones and it can even trigger symptoms that mimic a panic attack.

Cold drinks
For us Westerners, the idea that the temperature of your food can impact your mental and emotional state, is a new concept. According to Ayurvedic tradition, consuming something cold like an iced drink can cause tension in your body. Have you ever had a smoothie and felt your temperature drop and your body tense? Or sipped a warm drink and felt calm and comforted? If you are feeling stressed or anxious it’s better to eat or drink something warm and grounding, especially when in a cool climate.

The good news is that sugar does not necessarily cause anxiety, but it has been known increase existing anxiety. It does this by stimulating your body in a way that creates physical symptoms like shaking, blurry vision, and brain-fog; your body can interpret these symptoms as something gone awry. The other thing about sugar is that it’s incredibly addictive and if you go cold turkey, you can find yourself with some pretty serious withdrawal symptoms.

This one may feel a bit counterintuitive, given that pouring a stiff drink to destress is practically American tradition. The thing is, once the warm and fuzzy feeling wears off, you are left with the effects of altered serotonin levels. This change can leave you more anxious and/or depressed than before. What’s worse? The more often you drink, the higher your tolerance, including your tolerance of the de-stressing effects. There is even a term for the anxiety you feel directly after a night of drinking, hanxiety, and it can last up to a full 24 hours.

Refined carbs
If you’ve ever read a diet book, you know that refined carbs spike your blood sugar. Not great for your midsection, and also not great for your mood. What goes up, must come down, and after our blood sugar spikes we experience a crash which translates to irritability, hunger, and – you guessed it – anxiety

When we wait too long to eat, our levels of nutrients and sugars drop, stressing the body, and for some, causing anxiety. The fix for this is to make sure that you are eating regularly. Everyone has a different threshold for hunger, so pay attention to how you feel and be sure to prioritize eating. If hunger makes you anxious, carry around an emergency banana or other healthy snack, just in case.

 By paying attention to how food makes us feel, we can cut back on unexpected mood swings. This isn’t about eliminating every possible trigger from your diet forever. Rather, it’s a call to get to know yourself better. To recognize patterns so that you can minimize the amount of anxiety in your life.

Once you discover your own triggers, it’s up to you what you do with that information. For me, a clear, calm mind is worth sacrificing other pleasures for, most days. Others, I just want a latté and a chocolate croissant. 

Everybody and every body is different. Get to know (and love) yours.