Diet, Hiking and Anxiety

Food…

We all like to eat. We all have certain foods we absolutely enjoy and foods we absolutely hate. And we all have our comforts foods.

Personally I do not like liver. I don’t like the smell of it or the look. Some of my favorite foods are PB sandwiches, yes minus the jelly, spaghetti, and buffalo wings. And on the rare occasion, but living here in Central PA in the Cove I can’t find it, an authentic Philly Cheesesteak. If you’ve ever had an authentic Philly Cheesesteak you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you just don’t understand.

When I hiking and backpacking taking along a cheesesteak is not a good idea. Whether it’s a day trip of overnight when it comes time to eat I’m hungry. And nothing is more satisfying then a cup of ice and dehydrated chili cooked hot from my Jetboil. After hiking eight plus miles, just about any meal sounds amazing.

Planning and preparing food for a backpacking trip is important. You begin to think about proper nutrition as well as packaging and weight. You measure out food in ounces, wrap it tightly in plastic and condense it down into a cinch sack for optimal space in your pack. It becomes a science. Carbs are important while on the trail as it boosts energy, but at the end of the day you don’t want to sit down to a meal eating nothing but carbs. After putting in miles and burning calories protein and vitamins is essential.

As someone with anxiety disorder I am learning more and more the importance of proper nutrition. There are foods that help to relieve anxiety and yes, there are food that can cause anxiety to kick in. Proper planning and preparing is not only important for the trail but also in everyday life.

For those who know me I enjoy my coffee in the morning. I especially enjoy dark roast coffee. However, coffee is one of the worst foods someone like me with anxiety should be consuming. I’ve learned in moderation I’m ok. But on mornings like today when I should have stopped after the first cup, I am feeling the negative effects of the caffeine. To make matters worse I also skipped breakfast. NOT. A . GOOD. IDEA. I wouldn’t think of skipping a meal while I’m out on the trail. I know what can happen, and it’s not good.

I have learned and I’m continuing to learn much about life from being on the trail. My most recent lesson; put into practice your food planning from the trail into your everyday life.

Exercise can greatly reduce stress and anxiety, but proper nutrition is another key aspect of managing anxiety disorder. Below is a list of foods that can help reduce anxiety and ones you should avoid.

Foods to Avoid

  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol

Anti-anxiety Foods

  • Whole grain foods
  • Blueberries
  • Almonds
  • Chocolate
  • Salmon
  • Foods rich in vitamin B

There are ways to improve your stress and anxiety with your diet, but lifestyle changes, training, and a better understanding of your own anxiety is crucial. Diet is only the first step.

I’m still in the process of learning to manage my anxiety as well as get in the habit of eating properly. It all begins by taking that first step.

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