Foods to Help Anxiety & Blood Sugar 101

April 14, 2022

By Chelsea Potter

What if I told you that a big part of anxiety is related to diet? What if I also told you that a diet that supports inner calm doesn’t have to be super complicated?

Calm, focused energy can be accomplished by optimizing your blood sugar (yes this applies to you even if you don’t have diabetes).

I know, not the sexiest of topics, but EVERYONE can benefit from understanding how their blood sugar works, so let’s dive in.

Blood Sugar 101

After you eat, carbs are digested into sugar, which causes your blood sugar to increase⁠. (Try to hold your judgement of the word sugar, this is a natural process and its important!).

This signals your pancreas to release the hormone insulin, which allows the sugar to be moved out of your blood and into your cells, where it can be used for energy. ⁠

What we ideally want here is a slow rise and fall in our blood sugars and insulin levels instead of extreme spikes and crashes.


The Type of Carb Matters

Repeat after me- carbs are NOT the enemy. An all or nothing approach isn’t the best option here. We need carbs!

When you eat “complex”, fiber rich carbs (esp when you pair it with veggies, protein and fat-more on this later)- there’s a normal, beneficial rise in blood sugars, and insulin levels.

Your sugars stay more easily balanced and you have sustained, calm energy throughout your whole day.

Complex carbs include: potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grains, winter squashes, fruit, etc.

The unprocessed stuff.

The opposite is true for “simple carbs”, which lead to a rapid rise and then crash in blood sugar. Hello hangry, anxiety, fatigue, cravings and brain fog.

Simple carbs include: sweets, white breads, pastries, white pastas, white tortillas, etc.

The processed stuff.

All carbs are not created equal! And the extremes with carb intake (too low or too high) need to be avoided, you gotta find your sweet spot. And PS its ok to treat yourself with the sweet stuff mindfully!


When Blood Sugar Crashes

Say you get busy at work and forget to eat, or maybe your meals are primarily simple carb and you aren’t much of a protein and/or veggie person (big pasta dinners on the regular rotation, etc.), this a recipe for blood sugar crashes.

When the blood sugar dips, our adrenal glands spring into action and you release a bunch of cortisol to increase the blood sugar back up.

Literally stressful AF on the body and its like a roller coaster up and down.

We are running on stress hormones and that makes us feel very anxious.


Not Just About the Carbs

Blood sugar balance goes beyond carbs.

The other macronutrients: protein, fat (and fiber) play equally important roles in keeping you steady.

Start your week out (maybe on a Sunday) and plan out your dinners that will incorporate each of these macros. Use the below plate as a guide for portions, but listen to your body and experiment with the ratios that feel best for you.