My battle with anxiety started in college, with a combination of the pressures of academics, social life, not taking care of my body, and definitely drinking too much.
Because of all this stress, I started having panic attacks—in the form of chest pains, heart palpitations, and pain in my chest and arms. I was afraid that these were heart attack symptoms, so I didn’t want to ignore them. I’d go to the hospital and spend thousands of dollars on EKGs, just to have doctors tell me there was nothing wrong with my heart. What they didn’t tell me was that anxiety was the root of the problem.
And my diet certainly wasn’t helping. I was usually skipping breakfast or getting something on the run from my sorority house, like fried hash browns—or bacon, egg, and cheese on bagels on the weekend. Then I’d go to the cafeteria and hit the candy dispensers hard, grabbing huge bags of sour gummies and chocolate-covered pretzels to munch on while studying. For lunch (if you could call it that) I’d dip barbecue chips into almost anything, or have Cool Ranch Doritos from the library vending machine. There was also the typical late-night eating: pizza, subs, margaritas with chips and dip, and yes, Big Macs from the McDonald’s drive-through. Even though I was often feeling dehydrated, and eating way too much sugar, I was still happy and having fun.
The fun tapered off a bit when I moved to New York City and started working a stressful corporate job as a paralegal. I was ordering takeout a lot, still drinking, and living an overall unhealthy lifestyle. And although I was starting to think about the idea of health, that manifested in calculating calories in vs. calories out and not really putting anything of nutritional value into my body. I tried to cut carbs and calories any way I could and was also trying to save money, which meant I’d eat cheese quesadillas or flatbreads with low-fat cream cheese as a meal twice a day. What I thought was “healthy” portion control actually made me almost 20 pounds underweight—I’d become restrictive without even realizing it.
Original Article : How Clean Eating Helped Me Cope with Anxiety
By: Mara Santilli