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Is the diet I am trying healthy and sustainable?

I am trying the following diet to help with anxiety and all around feeling better: Breakfast = Special K Maple Crunch Oatmeal w/ quinoa and walnuts and a banana; Lunch = Wendy’s half size grilled chicken Caesar salad without croutons and with one packet of lemon garlic Caesar dressing; Snacks = 1 cheese stick or a 100 calorie pack of almonds and walnuts (dry) or one hard boiled egg with a small V8 or a chobani 100 calorie greek yogurt (usually one of these options in the morning and one in the afternoon); dinner is either chicken, pork, steak or tilapia (parmesan crusted) with veggies (occasionally whole grain past or whole grain hamburger helper); and dessert is a sugar free pudding with a dollop of canned whip cream

Answer:

Thanks for your question. Looking at the diet you have outlined I would say you have made some small steps towards a better diet. It is good that you have included healthy foods such as nuts, yoghurt and fiber rich foods such as whole grain pasta and quinoa. However you are consuming quite a few processed or canned foods such as the Special K, Wendy’s Caesar Salad, cheese sticks, sugar free puddings and canned cream. I recommend avoiding processed foods wherever possible as they are usually either high in salt, sugar, fat or artificial ingredients. For example the Wendy’s meals, contains approximately 45% of your daily allowance for saturated fat. Once you add in snacks and your other meals you may well be exceeding your daily allowance. I don’t know the specific brand of sugar free pudding you are referring to, but many that I have seen contain a lot of fat to make up for the fact they have reduced the sugar. So whilst its low in sugar its high in fat. Sometimes they are loaded with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose or Acesulfame K. In recent studies, artificial sweeteners have been recently shown to make the brain react as if it has eaten sugar and behave the same way, causing the body to store fat. If possible I would avoid artificial sweeteners where possible. If its essential to your diet I would consider using either natural Stevia or xylitol. If you have a busy lifestyle, it is easy to become reliant on convenience foods. I would suggest rather than buy items such as these Special K cereal pots, is to make your own cereal mix in bulk. Buy some big packs of all bran, rolled oats, raisins and nuts and then mix them together in a large plastic container. You can buy a couple of small plastic containers that you can take to work and fill them with your own cereal mix every day. This will last you a long time, be cheaper and most importantly be more nutritious. In terms of the anxiety you mentioned, there are many different foods you can include in your diet. I would recommend that you include eating oily fish three times a week, fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines are all good sources of Omega 3’s. Omega 3 fatty acids are involved in mood regulation and may help to cope with stress. I would drop the Tilapia from your diet as it tends to have very low amounts of Omega 3 and when choosing fish, avoid farmed fish where possible. Farmed fish are often low in Omega 3 because they are not eating a natural diet and consuming commercial fish feed. Eat foods that are high in tryptophan. This amino acid can reduce anxiety by promoting better sleep. Examples include cheese, chicken, eggs, tofu, fish, milk, turkey, nuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seed. Avoid Tea and Coffee along with any other caffeinated drinks and swap them for calming herbal teas such as Camomile or Lemon Balm, both of which have been shown to have calming properties. Finally as mentioned above artificial sweeteners have been linked to have a number of side effects, including behavioural side effects. I would avoid them if you are experiencing bouts of anxiety.

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