Food and Anxiety

food, anxiety, social anxiety, ADHD

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It’s That Time of Year

Thanksgiving is almost here, and soon after that it will be Christmas. (Or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah.)

And with all of that celebrating comes time spent with family, friends, loved ones, and probably some people we’d rather do without.

Parties, special dinners, get togethers – they all involve eating. And sometimes drinking.

And if you have ADHD, almost certainly social anxiety.

food, anxiety, social anxiety, ADHD

Food and Anxiety

Those of us with ADHD often have anxiety, and when we’re around people we don’t know well, or even a group of people we do know, our nervous nature comes out.

When that happens, we are more likely to overeat or drink too much.

Maybe it’s easier to take another bite of pie or another cookie than it is to keep your mouth shut when Aunt Edna comes up with another snarky comment about your appearance.

Or you feel self conscious just standing there by yourself, and having a drink or a plate in your hand gives you something to do and concentrate on.

Having a drink can help soothe your nerves and calm you down – or so you think. Before you know it, you could be over the limit and embarrassing yourself.

Let’s Make This Easier

Being a part of society means you’re going to have to get out there from time to time and actually talk to people.

And yes, it’s possible that in certain situations you may do just fine. (My youngest daughter could get up on stage in front of hundreds of people and not bat an eye, but ask her to do a speech in class and she froze. The difference? On the stage, she was someone else; in class, she had to be herself. Maybe it’s sort of like that for you.)

So what can you do about social anxiety, other than eat and drink everything in sight?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Talk to your doctor about anxiety medication. They really can help.
  • Learn to meditate. Yes, really. It’s possible when you have ADHD, and it can help. You can draw on that feeling of calm in tense situations.
  • Learn a few simple conversation starters for awkward moments and also learn to make a graceful exit when needed. A simple “excuse me” will work. While it’s good to interact with others, there’s no rule that says you have to make yourself miserable in the process.
  • We’ve all been guilty of that running commentary in our head. We spend so much time worrying about what we will say, what the person thinks of us, etc, that we completely miss the conversation and end up saying something out of left field. Try to relax and enjoy. The good people are worth making the effort.
  • Wear a piece of jewelry that you can play with. A bracelet is good, because it doesn’t attract a lot of attention. It’s a way to work off nervous energy.
  • If your anxiety is really bad, and you know the hostess well, you might ask ahead of time for a quiet place where you go for a few minutes to collect yourself. Even stepping outside for a bit of air can help.
  • Appoint yourself the helper. See if the hostess needs someone to do something for her, or maybe just start on your own. Picking up random cups and napkins to dispose of can keep you busy and you’ll be helping out.
  • Certain foods contain ingredients that act as natural mood enhancers or calming agents. That’s why everyone is so sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner. All that tryptophan in the turkey. (So have extra.) Joking. While I don’t think that a turkey sandwich will calm your nerves that much, it’s a topic worth exploring. This article has some interesting ideas about food and it’s calming abilities, and it also has some good ideas for dealing with anxiety in general.
  • Finally, make an effort not to drink too much, but if you find that you’re overeating, don’t beat yourself up. It’s one evening. (But maybe you could try eating slower, or taking smaller bites.)
  • Maybe now isn’t the time, but consider putting yourself in more social situations, a little at a time. Maybe smaller groups, or with friends. It’s good practice for those times that we all have to endure.
  • Check out this article about 5 Ways to Reduce Your Social Anxiety.

So what about you?

Do you have any ideas to add to the conversation?





Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle is the writer of and the Podcast host for An ADD Woman.

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