Posted: Dec 30, 2012 8:00 PM
Like every over-scheduled, tired and overwhelmed mommy, you may have started experiencing anxiety, mood swings or depression since entering mommyhood. But you can change all that by changing what you put on your plate. Food Mood Expert Trudy Scott (CN) -- and author of The Anti-Anxiety Food Solution -- spoke with allParenting to help put your stressed mind and body at ease.

Where it all stems from

When the South Africa-raised author herself began experiencing panic attacks during a particularly stressful time in her 30s while she was working for corporate America, she looked to nature not medication to help solve her problem. A self-professed "research nerd," Trudy began reading up on the correlation between mood and food. She is amazed and excited about how much more research is now available on the connection.

She adds, "There is such a connection between what we eat and our mental health." Through her own discoveries, she encourages women to discover what a balanced "whole life system" can do for your body and mind.

A diet based on real, whole food truly does serve as the foundation for ending anxiety...

Eat real food

Trudy is a big proponent of eating real, all natural and organic food that is as close to the source as possible. She boasts the benefits of eating organic/farm fresh produce, grass-fed meats, pastured poultry and eggs and wild fish. In her book, Trudy states, "A diet based on real, whole food truly does serve as the foundation for ending anxiety, providing key nutrients that are essential for the body’s production of neurotransmitters and hormones." She suggests nixing fast food and fried foods to help improve your health as well.

Find out if you're gluten or dairy intolerant

Trudy’s book offers checklists, charts and guided testing to help you determine if you may have an intolerance to gluten or dairy (as well as other foods) that is feeding your anxiety and mood swings. You may need to be tested by a doctor as well.

Ditch your caffeine and sugar addictions

Hold onto your coffee cups ladies, this is a jaw dropper. Most busy (i.e., exhausted) moms rely on caffeine and sugar to get them through their day. However, Trudy notes that there is "scientific evidence" proving that "caffeine consumption can worsen anxiety" in a subset of people.

As for sugar, Trudy states in her book, "Consuming refined sugar, sodas, most other sweeteners (including honey and maple syrup) and refined carbohydrates leads to a spike and then drop in blood sugar levels which can result in anxiety, nervousness and irritability."

Reality check

Kids are smart enough to know when food is not making them feel good.

Trudy is realistic about the fact that giving up all these foods/additives that are part of our daily lives (especially with sugary snacks for kids, rolls through the drive-thru, etc.) could be difficult, at first, for many busy moms. However, she encourages moms to try out a few of the changes at a time to see how it affects them individually.

She notes that it is easier to accomplish her ideal method of healthy living if the whole family is on board. She says, "I leave it up to the mom. Some like to try all the changes at once, then incorporate it into their family's lives."

Trudy stresses the importance of getting the kids involved in making healthy choices by letting them choose produce at the grocery store or taking them to the farmers market. She adds, "Kids are smart enough to know when food is not making them feel good."

Amino acids

Trudy also boasts the amazing benefits of specific amino acids in her book. She suggests moms try amino acids before turning to a prescription drug to ease their anxious minds. "Amino acids can calm you down within a few minutes," she says. "It sounds too good to be true, but these are really amazing."

Trudy, who once considered herself a "GABA girl," says the amino acid GABA helps with physical anxiety -- and adds that research shows that tryptophan (or 5-HTP) can also help ease anxiety.

Read more on the food and mood connection in Trudy's book and on her website.

More on food and mood

Eating for energy: Tips for managing your mood with food
Handle stress with grace and ways to improve your mood

Make over your moods