So it turns out that alcohol, gluten and sugar DO have an effect on my anxiety. BOLLOCKS.. I was hoping it was just a farce.
I completed one week of the ‘Clean Living Challenge’ very strictly and then another week slightly more relaxed. (Basically I allowed myself to eat brown rice and have the occasional glass of red.. otherwise I was going to kill someone.) To put this into context though, my wine intake was sufficiently lower than usual and I added the rice because Quinoa is the Devil’s grain doesn’t fill me up.
Anyway, yesterday evening I drank around three 175ml glasses of wine (enough to get me drunk) and I ate some toast, followed by two crème eggs…. And guess what? IT MESSED ME UP! Not instantly, on the contrary I felt great at the time.. a gluttonous act that made me feel giddy.
However, around 3am I woke up with a start. My heart was pounding and I felt wired and agitated. A placebo affect you ask? Doubtful considering that I’d spent most of the evening smugly celebrating the fact that; ‘wine is my cure!’ I was very happy and calm. But now I felt distressed. So I turned to my trusty friend Nytol to take the edge off and listened to a podcast until I fell asleep again.
But what affect do you think this had on me the following morning? I was so groggy and lethargic that I couldn’t drag myself out of bed. I missed my morning exercise and usual breakfast of porridge with bananas. To compensate, once I arrived at work I had a bagel and a can of coke to wake me up. It tasted dirty and coated my teeth in a layer of what can only be described as tar. Still, mission accomplished, I was wide awake….. until 11am when the sugar wore off and I crashed completely. I was bloated and sluggish from the bread and sugar hit. So perhaps I should get myself an Espresso to perk me up? This will most definitely make me feel jittery after the initial buzz and more sensitive to external events. Finally, after such a shit day of feeling hypersensitive I could treat myself to a few glasses of wine to take the edge of… AND HERE WE GO AGAIN. Do you spot the cycle? I cannot believe that it’s taken me such a long time to notice something so transparent.
Here’s an additional bit of science for you; Alcohol interferes with neurotransmitters in our brains that are needed for good mental health. Whilst drinking may initially feel quite relaxing, after it wears off the mind struggles to rebalance the chemical levels which can ultimately affect sleep, diet and general mood.
This would explain why I suffer from anxiety so badly during the Christmas period. Five days of heavy drinking obviously disrupts my Serotonin levels. By the end, the only thing that makes me feel better is another drink.
So what does all this mean exactly? Well in a nutshell, anxiety isn’t solely related to diet. I don’t expect to be cured by simply eating loads of carrots and drinking almond milk (which is delicious btw.) However, I have found that cutting down on wine, sugar & gluten and increasing my intake of fruit, vegetables and proteins has definitely increased my mental strength and energy levels. In overview, I believe that when my body isn’t using excess energy to remove toxics and rebalance chemicals, it is more likely to use this energy to maintain the health of my nerves (I have very sensitive nerves) and keep my mood levels steady.
Will I now give up alcohol and crème eggs forever I hear you ask? Let’s not be silly. There are five key things which define me; Wine, The Beatles, Tagliatelle, fancy stationary & Mr Dickens…. and I don’t intend to give up any of them! Ultimately it relates back to that age old saying; ‘keep things in moderation’ – I hate it when old sayings are accurate, it ruins my smugness.
Perhaps I need a new plan then? I can draft it out with my fancy stationary… I do love a good list. OR, I could just commit to keep two days a week alcohol free and limit myself to one glass on a work night. (Famous last words.) In all seriousness though I’d be happy to stick to those rules, especially now that I know it helps. Chocolate and bread are easier beasts to tackle as I’ll simply stop buying them from the supermarket… although let’s be clear, if I want a crème egg then I’m having one!
Don’t worry, I won’t suddenly morph into a hippie… although I do take a lot of drugs (legal ones.) I could never be a hippie to be honest, as I don’t like tie dye and money makes me very happy.