Written by: Meg De Jong & McKenna Garrison
Okay so summer is in full swing!! Maybe for you this means life is lighter, brighter, and all around less stressful? However, the truth for most people is that anxiety can still seem to sneak in (no matter how beautiful the weather might be)!
In this blog post we’re so excited to break down some of the top nutrition tips for summer time in order to help ease anxiety!
Eating in Summer
For many reasons, the summer can be an easier time to eat in a way that’s supportive for anxiety. For example, there’s all sorts of nutrient dense, local produce available like fresh lettuce, beets, carrots, kale, chard, etc., all of which are loaded with micronutrients the brain needs to function optimally! Local berries are also in season which are packed with antioxidants and therefore supportive in reducing neuro-inflammation! And perhaps you tend to lighter, more nutrient dense whole food meals like salads, smoothies, stir fry’s, etc. that support your gut health and also help your body and brain thrive?
However, on the flip side – the go go go of summer can create a perfect environment for ‘anxiety triggering eating habits’ to creep in. For example, you might eat more processed ‘party/ picnic’ foods like chips, poor quality dairy products, sodas, and cookies thanks to weekly BBQ’s and other social gatherings. Maybe you find yourself camping lots and enjoy these foods because they’re quick and convenient? Alongside these, drinking alcohol can become more frequent during the summer – which although can be fun in the moment – can be quite anxiety triggering days later for many people. Not only this, but trips to the ice cream store and enjoying other yummy sugary treats are often more common in the summertime as well. Of course these are all fun things, however when done too often, they can begin contributing to increased anxiety levels.
BUT WAIT, there is good news! With a diet to help ease anxiety – it’s NOT about being perfect or never enjoying fun things! More than anything, as nutritionists, we believe you should see food as the beautiful gift it is, and let it fit into your life as naturally and stress free as possible. However, on top of this, we also want to remind you that food can be your greatest healer and that it’s important to pay attention to how you nourish both your body and mind to ensure your food is truly supporting (not depleting) you in all the ways it can!
Before we get into the 6 summer nutrition tips to ease anxiety, if you’re looking for a little more background info on the impact nutrition can have on anxiety, be sure to check out this blog post on the topic!
Okay, now onto the tips!
Six Summer Nutrition Tips to Ease Anxiety
Below you will find six helpful nutrition tips and simple diet swaps for summertime, to help keep those anxiety levels at bay (while still having all sorts of fun!)
- Ensure your blood sugars are balanced by eating 3 whole food meals a day: Our minds thrive when our bodies are in a healthy state of homeostasis. By keeping blood sugars balanced we avoid cortisol spikes and crashes – which can be major triggers for anxiety. Try filling your plate with healthy fats, high quality protein, complex carb, and lots of veg to optimize blood sugars! A delicious summer nourish bowl like this one – is a great way to do so!
- If going for ice cream – opt for a dairy free choice: Options such as sorbet or coconut based ice cream are great ways to do so! Dairy shows up as a common trigger food for the majority of people, so doing your best to reduce/ avoid it can be very supportive for anxiety. More and more places are offering dairy free choices, so be sure to ask, and you’ll likely be surprised just how delicious it can be! Pictured to the right is my favourite dairy free soft serve which is made of coconut and oat milk! Another idea is to make your own banana ‘nice cream’ by blending together frozen banana’s and a few splashes of dairy free milk – it’s delicious!
- Utilize all the fresh herbs available this time of year: Herbs such as dill, parsley, basil, and cilantro are loaded with antioxidants and brain boosting nutrients. These nutrients can help mitigate some of the negative effects of quick, not-so-healthy summer foods. Feel free to add them to nourish bowls, quinoa salads, smoothies (basil is great for this), sauces (such as an avocado cilantro sauce), or made into a mixed herb pesto. Herbs are particularly helpful for anxiety because they’re chalked full of vitamins and also contain polyphenols – which are potent antioxidants and very anti-inflammatory for the body and mind.
- Limit or Avoid alcohol: As mentioned above, alcohol can trigger anxiety for a lot of people as it crosses the blood brain barrier, and can impact serotonin levels as well as other neurotransmitters in the brain (especially after the ‘buzz’ of the alcohol wears off). A great option instead is kombucha, sparkling water with a splash of fresh fruit juice, or even a fun mocktail!
- Stay hydrated: it can be incredibly easy to become dehydrated in the summertime – without even realizing it’s happening! Ensuring you get enough water can help hydrate all of the cells of the body and brain, so you can function optimally. Not only this, water helps to flush out excess toxins that may accumulate from those more indulgent summer foods.
- Be the one to bring health to your parties: If you find yourself often going to beach picnics, BBQ’s, potlucks, parties, etc. it’s a great idea to appoint yourself as the one to bring the veg! Whether it be cut up veg & hummus, a delicious salad, or a veggie inspired meal – all are great options to support your brain & body. Doing so, you can still enjoy what other people bring, but always ensure you’re getting enough veg to keep blood sugars balanced and your mind more stabilized.
There you have it – six simple tips to help ease your anxiety levels this sunny season!
We hope it’s super clear – that you certainly don’t have to say no to a social hour with friends, that camping trip you’ve been waiting all year for, or another summer BBQ – in fact, it’s the complete opposite! With these six nutrition tips in mind, you can start easing those anxiety levels with the food you eat, while of course, not missing out on all the fun summer has to offer!
If you’re curious to know more about how you can eat to ease your anxiety – be sure to check out the ‘Anxiety Reduction Nutrition Protocol’ where you can receive direct one on one support – to feel amazing in body & mind – all year long!