Last week I was teaching at a retreat center. It was so beautiful and lovely, and I couldn’t enjoy it. My anxiety was through the roof to the point it was waking it up in the middle of the night with panic attacks and flashbacks. I also had chronic and severe diarrhea due to my anxiety. Teaching took every ounce of my energy. Thinking was a difficult chore too. I could feel depression creeping in slowly. I haven’t had this happen in years! I didn’t know what was going on.
So what happened? After getting home and getting back to my normal self, I figured it out…it was my diet. At the retreat center it was a lovely vegetarian/vegan diet. While it was lovely, it had no protein at all. None. I normally eat a high protein diet, so hence, there went my anxiety.
In a 2019 article written by Mental Health Connecticut, the state,
“Food rich in protein contain amino acids to help produce key neurotransmitters in prevention and treating depression and anxiety. Protein packed meals and snacks help you avoid sugary, processed foods, which can trigger anxiety and depression” (Retrieved from https://www.mhconn.org/nutrition/protein-and-mental-health/#:~:text=Foods%20rich%20in%20protein%20contain,can%20trigger%20anxiety%20and%20depression.).
There is so much information and research done on this. I read three articles from Mental Health Journals that all stated the same! So where can we get protein to help our anxiety and depression? Here’s a breakdown of high protein foods:
- Lean Beef – there are 22 grams of protein in a 3oz piece of lean beef.
- Chicken – there’s 27 grams of protein in a 3oz piece of chicken.
- Salmon – Salmon has 19 grams of protein in a 3oz piece.
- Eggs (and yes, eggs ARE good for you) – One large egg has 6 grams of protein.
- Peanut Butter – 7 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons.
- Pasta (shocking!) – 1 cup of penne pasta has 6 grams of protein.
- Cottage Cheese – 12 grams of protein in a ½ cup of cottage cheese.
- Lentil (I love lentils) – 18 grams of protein in 1 cup of cooked lentils.
So what about if your vegan? Try these: Seitan (made with gluten and wheat), Tofu/Tempah/Edamame, Lentils, Beans, Nutritional Yeast, Spelt/Teff, Hemp Seeds, Green Peas, Spirulina, Amaranth/Quinoa, Ezekiel Bread & Sprouted Grain breads, Soy Milk, Oats/Oatmeal (though Oats is technically not good for humans), Wild Rice, Chia Seeds, Nuts/Nut Butter/Seeds, Protein rich foods such as broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts, Fruits include: guava, cherimoyas, mulberries, blackberries, nectarines, and bananas, and Mycoprotein which is a non-animal-based protein derived from Fusarium venenatum, which is a type of fungus.
There are many foods on this list I can’t eat because of celiac and nut allergies. However, there are a few I can eat. The bottom line for me to tell you this is simple: eat for your brain. If you do have anxiety, PTSD, and depression (or one of those), eat a diet that is high in protein.
Stress relieving foods are also helpful for those with a anxiety too. Foods that are high in Vitamin B, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Protein, and Magnesium Rich are excellent for this. The Cleveland Clinic has an excellent list of great foods that are high in these items.
Listen to your body folks. It’s telling you something.