This is a guest post from Ryan over at Calm Clinic. He approached me a while back about writing practical advice for anyone suffering panic attacks and I think the below may prove really helpful to any of your guys who suffer from them (I used to as well – not nice!). Aside from diet, check out the work with me page where you can work with me 121 to get over stuck like panic attacks and get uber confident!


Panic disorder is a remarkably complex problem. The hardest part about living with panic disorder is that it can be triggered by anything or nothing, and when you have panic disorder, often your panic attacks come from a fear of getting a panic attack – eventually becoming a cycle/self-fulfilling prophecy.
Dealing with panic disorder involves a number of lifestyle changes. The most important thing you can do is find ways to relax. Seek out less stressful situations, and see a doctor if you are worried about your health. These will all calm your mind a bit, and make it slightly less likely that you’ll experience a panic attack. But another way to reduce the severity and frequency of your panic attacks is by changing your diet.

Why Do Diet Changes Help?
Panic disorder is unusual, in that it often creates a type of hyper-sensitivity to your own body. In other words, you focus so much on the way you feel that even the slightest bit of discomfort or unusual feeling can cause you to experience a wave of anxiety and concern about your overall health.
The more you can reduce these minor body sensations, the less often you’ll experience a panic attack. That is where your diet can play an important role:

  • Cut/Reduce Caffeine  – Coffee has received somewhat of a bad reputation in the mental health world. There isn’t much evidence that it increases generalized anxiety, and the caffeine may help improve alertness and a feeling of wellbeing. But when you have panic disorder, coffee has a tendency to cause your heartbeat to increase. Because those with panic attack tend to be hypersensitive to body changes, this heartbeat increase can trigger the feeling like something is wrong, and ultimately cause a panic attack. Don’t forget that caffeine is found in most sodas as well.
  • Eat Less Heavy Foods – For pretty much every health issue in life, eating healthier is advisable. This is true with panic attacks as well. The less burgers you eat, and the more natural foods you eat, the better you’ll feel. But if you have trouble cutting out all bad foods, at least try to cut out the “heavier” ones. For example, a giant bowl of pasta is going to cause you some serious stomach discomfort, which could trigger a panic attack. Whole grain pasta may be less heavy, and thus less likely to cause the same discomfort.
  • Don’t Skip Meals – While you should eat less heavy foods, you still need to eat. This is especially important with panic attacks. The light-headedness you feel when you skip meals can cause a feeling of something being “wrong” which may increase the frequency of your panic attacks. Eat all of your meals to reduce this light headedness and keep your brain as sharp as possible.
  • Stop Drinking Alcohol – Alcohol causes a number of issues that contribute to anxiety, not the least of which is dehydration, which can also lead to a feeling of lightheadedness. Alcohol also causes stomach discomfort and may affect your heart rate.
  • Eat Less Gas-Causing Foods – If you’ve found that there are some types of foods that cause you to experience bloating, you may want to cut them out. Bloating can lead to chest and intestinal pains, and those that are overly concerned about their health as a result of a panic attack may misconstrue these symptoms and trigger another attack.

With thanks to Gary Bruemmer found at Picasa.

Diet changes cannot fight panic on their own – you will still need to learn relaxation strategies, and develop ways to better cope with stress – but diet changes can make an incredible difference when it comes to how often something in your body triggers an attack. Eating healthier should be priority number one, but in the absence of eating healthier, consider the above tips, and try your best to limit any foods that may trigger another panic attack.


About the Author: Ryan Rivera’s panic attacks were so severe that he was hospitalized. Lifestyle changes helped him recover, and now he writes about them on his website at