If you’re someone who suffers from anxiety, you know how debilitating it can be. Anxiety is often caused by trauma, and also co-occurs with other mental health related conditions such as depression; but what you might not realize is that certain foods you eat may also be triggering those feelings of anxiousness.

1. Coffee
This is a beverage that millions of Canadians rely on each and every day to give them that added boost of energy in the morning, as well as help them get through their days at work, as well as pull all-nighters to study for things like exam. There are both risks and benefits that come along with coffee consumption. If you’re someone who consumes several cups of coffee per day, those high levels of caffeine in your system can increase feelings of nervousness and anxiousness, and may also even decrease the production of serotonin, leaving you feeling depressed. As an alternative, try drinking herbal tea. Not only is it healthier for you, but it won’t give you any of those unwanted jitters.

2. Non-Dairy Creamers
Staying on the subject of coffee, individuals often put cream in their coffee (and even in their tea) opposed to opting for things like low-fat milk, 1% milk, 2% milk, or soy, almond or coconut milks. Creamers, especially if non-dairy, are sources of trans fats (also known as hydrogenated oils), come packed with LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), and can lower your HDL cholesterol levels (the “good” cholesterol.) Trans fats/hydrogenated oils have been linked to depression and anxiety, as well as other types of mental illness.

3. Fermented Foods
It might sound bizarre, but certain fermented aged or cultured foods (such as certain meats and cheeses) can also contribute to anxiety. During their curing, fermenting, or culturing process, bacteria breaks down proteins into biogenic amines. One of these includes histamine, which is a neurotransmitter that can aggravate hormones, digestion, as well as the nervous and cardiovascular symptoms. If you are susceptible or sensitive and have a histamine intolerance in any way, this can also trigger anxiety. So, rather than choosing foods that are aged, fermented or cultured, always go for foods that are fresh instead.

4. Sugar
We all know that sugar isn’t good for us. In fact, sugar consumption is one of the leading contributing factors for obesity amongst Canadians – especially added sugars in certain foods. It can cause your blood sugar to spike and crash, which then causes your energy to do the same. Unfortunately, when your blood sugar crashes, so does your mood, which can then increase anxiety because the body is working extra hard to get the body feeling back to normal. If you’re craving something sweet, I recommend going for foods that are naturally sweet – such as fresh fruit.