When your nerves are frayed, comfort foods tend to be what you reach for most. A heaping serving of carbohydrates, fat and sugar is what many comfort foods contain, and they might make you feel better in the short term, but looking forward to the long-term solutions to calm your nerves might mean an overhaul of your go-to foods.
Whole Grains and Fiber
Incorporating whole grains and fiber into your diet may help your nerves stay as calm and cool as a cucumber. Eating complex carbohydrates --those with whole grains and fiber -- such as brown rice, sweet potatoes and whole wheat pastas, for example, prevent your blood sugar levels from spiking and later plunging. White rices, pastas and simple carbohydrates are more likely to cause the sugar crash that can make you anxious, irritable and edgy. You do not have to rely on just whole grains for your fiber; oranges, prunes, plums and other fruits that are fiber-rich can also be beneficial to your emotional health.
A wide range of fresh produce in your diet may calm a case of the jitters. Fresh fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential to your overall health. A deficiency of nutrients in some cases can cause mood changes, and lead to anxiety. Registered dietician Cynthia Sass suggests eating beets and mushrooms to combat stress. Beets contain folate, a B-vitamin that can help fight stress. Mushrooms are high in selenium, which can also prevent a depressive mood.
Staying hydrated can help calm your nerves and keep your mood from dipping. Plain water and other decaffeinated beverages are appropriate choices to sip throughout the day to keep you on an even keel. Caffeine and alcohol may make you jittery and irritable, or interfere with your sleep, which can heighten your feelings of nervousness or anxiety. The one exception to the "no-caffeine" rule might be green tea. Japanese researchers studied more than 42,000 people under the age of 40 in 2006. The study participants were assessed through a questionnaire to determine their level of psychological stress. The people who drank more than 5 cups of green tea daily were found to have significantly less stress than those who drank a maximum of 1 cup of green tea daily. Green tea is available in decaffeinated form, but some of the antioxidants found in the liquid may be lost during the decaffeination process.
Include protein in your diet to reduce anxiety, especially in your first meal of the day. Lean protein sources include chicken, turkey, fish, pork, beans and eggs. Starting your day with protein gives you energy and helps prevent an energy down-surge that can lead to anxiety, stress and depression. Protein also helps you make hormones -- including those that regulate stress -- and some of the amino acids found in protein help you produce brain chemicals that regulate your emotions.