Symptoms of anxiety can appear in anyone without any warning. You can feel calm and relaxed in one moment and in the next you might be struggling with tensions, lightheadedness, and rapid heart rate because of anxiety. There are many situations when one can get anxiety. But, do you know that you can also feel anxious after eating? Read below to know why do you feel anxious after eating? Know the surprising reasons.
Why Do You Feel Anxious After Eating? Know The Surprising Reasons
When you have anxiety you feel dizzy, lightheadedness, rapid heartbeats, and your palms get sweaty. You might also find yourself struggling while breathing. For some individuals, anxiety shows up after eating. Managing such symptoms of anxiety usually starts with learning to avoid key triggers and also finding effective ways to manage those that you can’t avoid.
However, eating could never be unavoidable. But, there other ways to look at the real culprits for why you feel anxious after eating and avoid those triggers.
Anxiety after eating is not widely understood. It is not even listed as an anxiety issue. However, the sheer number of people that experience anxiety after or even during eating, seems to indicate that this type of anxiety does exist and affects a lot of people. So, Know the surprising reasons why one feels anxious after eating?
1. Anxiety Due To The Gut:
A broader reason that has been proposed by a few anxiety researchers is that anxiety after eating might have something to do with the gut. The gut has been termed as the “Second brain” because it tends to have a variety of nerve functions, neurotransmitters, and hormones, that affect the way our entire body feels. The Serotonin hormone is even involved in both the gut and anxiety.
It might be possible that somehow, after eating, something inside the gut gets activated and that causes the mind to begin experiencing anxiety. This is why it is always a great idea to have a healthy diet when you have anxiety. There are reasons to believe that the healthier you are, the less anxiety you will have.
2. Reactive Hypoglycemia:
You might also feel anxious after eating if you have Reactive hypoglycemia. You will be experiencing low blood sugar after eating if you have reactive hypoglycemia. This drop in blood sugar follows an increase in the production of insulin that can make you feel irritable, anxious, and even cause confusion.(1)
You might also experience some physical changes that resemble anxiety symptoms such as shakiness, dizziness, a racing heartbeat, and increased sweating.
Foods rich in sugar and processed carbohydrates usually trigger reactive hypoglycemia, however, symptoms can even develop when you consume more caffeine or alcohol on an empty stomach.
For handling this, you should maintain a food diary for 7 days that can help you notice patterns, such as if you experience symptoms generally at specific times of the day or after eating some kinds of food.
You should include more fiber and whole grains, choose lean protein like fish and eggs, take fruit and nuts, avocado, and limit consuming alcohol and caffeine.
One of the things that you need to know that sometimes there might be some underlying medical causes for hypoglycemia. So it is always good to see a healthcare professional.
3. Allergies And Food Sensitivities:
There might be mild to severe symptoms of food allergies and many of these symptoms can resemble those of an oncoming panic attack or anxiety. You might experience symptoms of lightheadedness, difficulty breathing, numbness in the mouth, swelling in the throat, stomach pain, rapid heartbeat. All these symptoms can come rapidly, however, they might not appear for 1-2 hours after eating. Exercising after food can usually trigger these symptoms.
NOTE: Food allergies involving severe symptoms can result in anaphylaxis or a serious condition that needs emergency medical treatment.
You should seek medical care if anxiety symptoms appearing after eating also involve symptoms of dizziness or fainting, racing pulse, sudden low blood pressure, or difficulty breathing or swallowing.
4. Previous Negative Experiences With Food:
Often unpleasant memories create anxious feelings, and food-related experiences are really no exception.
There might be a serious disagreement between you and your spouse while eating a particular food in a restaurant. That emotional tension and fear might occur again when you eat the same dish anytime. Similarly, if in the past you had experienced choking while eating popcorn or experienced food poisoning while having any unhealthy food, you might again feel anxious while eating the same foods.
To handle such anxious feelings after eating you must know not to force yourself to eat foods that trigger discomfort, especially if you are worried or tensed about getting sick.
5. Disordered Eating:
One more reason for feeling anxious after eating could be disordered eating. In fact, it is common for people with eating disorders to experience food-related anxiety.(2)
We would, however, make you know that anxiety after eating does not really mean that you have an eating disorder. But sometimes it can suggest potentially harmful eating patterns.
You must note down certain disordered eating signs like, feeling of guilt or distress after eating foods that you consider unhealthy, anxiety during mealtimes, nervousness or guilt feeling after eating too much, or extreme choosiness about foods that you consume. Several complex factors contribute to eating disorders which include trauma, family history, body image problems, or low self-esteem.
It would be right to say that disordered eating could be difficult to address on your own, however, you can handle disordered eating by consulting your therapist.
6. Food Triggers:
There are specific foods that can provoke anxiety symptoms even if they directly do not affect the blood sugar. Some of the potential food triggers that might cause anxiety after eating could be cheese. Fermented foods containing histamine (a neurotransmitter), trans fats, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, white flour, and other refined carbohydrates.
You might require to keep a food diary that can help you track any pattern between your food consumption and increased symptoms of anxiety. When we talk about sugar, in particular, you should always take care of reading labels and checking the amount of sugar any packaged food contains before you purchase them.
Research from the year 2019 strongly suggests there is a link between anxiety and cravings for sweet foods.(3)
So, if you have a sweet craving, try to use naturally sweet fruits like raisins, dates, strawberries, and pineapples, for satisfying your sweet tooth without any extra sugar.
Apart from all these, you should drink plenty of water and unsweetened herbal tea, add more vegetables and fruits to your daily diet, consume more foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids and probiotics.
It is true that at a glance, anxiety might seem totally unrelated to food or eating. However, there is a link between anxiety after eating. Feeling anxious can prevent you from digesting the food properly, and poor digestion could create more stress in you. You should consult with your healthcare provider if you continue feeling anxious after eating.
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