All the ways to reduce stress with your diet (the do’s and don’ts)
Whether you’re a nail-biter or stress-baker, we all handle stressful situations in different ways. But if you’re trying to channel more peacefulness in your life, the answer may just be hiding in your kitchen! While we’re big believers that there’s no “right” way to reduce stress, meaning different practices work for different people, here are 14 foodie essentials we love that help us stay as zen as possible (and 6 foods we try to avoid).
From blueberries to dark chocolate, we hope this list of stress-fighting foods gives you a little taste of peacefulness wherever you are!
DOs: 14 foods and drinks that help fight stress
1. Foods rich in vitamin C
Between helping us fight diseases and preventing infections, vitamin C boosts our overall wellness in so many ways.
Get your Vitamin C fix with foods like:
- Brussels sprouts
- Bell peppers
- Sweet potatoes
And check out this post to scope out our favorite vitamin C supplement!
2. Dark chocolate
We love it when relieving stress and eating something sweet go hand in hand! And according to research, indulging in dark chocolate (in moderation) can have a positive impact on brain health, including helping reduce stress. Just check to make sure the chocolate is at least 70% cocoa.
Matcha is loaded with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. And thanks to matcha’s high levels of theanine, the tea is shown to have a positive effect on reducing stress and anxiety. Zen vibes coming your way!
All the antioxidants in berries can give your body a little extra boost to fight stress. Try our Blueberry Bubblegum Smoothie from The Wholesome Culture Cookbook or sprinkle some berries in your oatmeal, smoothies, or fruit salads.
Avocados are loaded with vitamins, potassium, and fatty acids. And like blueberries, they’re a great source of antioxidants, which we love because antioxidants are known to help neutralize free radicals and help support brain health.
Get more avocado in your life with these simple avocado toast recipes!
6. Peppermint tea
When we drink peppermint tea, we feel like we’re transported straight to a spa. Between the minty aroma and refreshing taste, peppermint tea makes us feel an overall sense of serenity. And the menthol present in the herb is known to be a muscle relaxant, which can help give us feel-good vibes amid stressful situations.
7. CBD Oil
One of the essentials in our wellness toolkit is: CBD Oil. We’re sure you already know all about CBD but just in case, CBD is known for its pain-reducing, anti-inflammatory, and mind relaxing effects, but without the “high” that comes from THC. Sounds great, right?!
Our favorite CBD product is Ojai Energetics Full Spectrum Hemp Elixir. It’s made without any synthetics, and instead contains powerful superfoods like moringa, hemp seed oil, and acerola cherry. We love it because it relaxes our muscles, helps us sleep, and just makes us feel an overall sense of soothing calmness. Which we don’t know about you, but we could definitely use as much zen energy in our lives right now!
And since we’re so obsessed, we’re excited to share an exclusive offer for members of our Wholesome community — order now and you’ll get free shipping, plus a free tube of CBD Sports Gel ($47) if you order three bottles or more!*
Insider’s Tip: Try using the oil in your coffee drinks, smoothies, and teas. Or you can even put a few drops on your tongue (fyi, it tastes like dessert!).
*This is an affiliate link, so we will receive a portion of the sales, at no extra cost to you!
8. Leafy greens
Leafy greens contain folate, which produces dopamine (a pleasure-inducing hormone). So stock up on spinach, kale, or whatever greens you have your eye on!
Another way to get more stress-fighting folate in your diet is with asparagus.
Looking for some asparagus recipe inspiration? Check out this Creamy, Mushroom Asparagus Pasta from Minimalist Baker.
Nuts are loaded with antioxidants, zinc, and healthy fats — all good for helping your body get nutrients it needs.
We’re especially big fans of pistachios because they’re something oddly cathartic and rewarding about cracking the shells. 🙂
Neutralize free radicals in your everyday life with garlic. You’ll also get antioxidants + lots of nutrients in your meals with the help of the strong-smelling bulb!
Ginger contains an antioxidant called gingerol, which defends your body from chemicals that can cause mental and physical stress.
Boost your ginger intake by drinking ginger tea or adding ginger to your smoothies, dressings, and soups (like this one from Love and Lemons).
The calming characteristics of chamomile is known to ease us into sleep. And drinking chamomile tea isn’t only super soothing on the throat, it’s also a lovely ritual to give our minds a trigger to wind down and rest.
Last but certainly not least, lavender doesn’t just smell pretty– it’s also shown to potentially help treat anxiety. So whether you love lavender tea, soaps, or room spray — don’t be shy with the purple herb!
DON’Ts: 6 Foods and drinks to avoid
1. Artificial sweeteners
Sugar-free sweeteners can be found in diet soda, coffee creamers, reduced calorie ice cream, and gum. And while they may cut calories, studies show artificial sweeteners are linked to higher rates of depression. Why? Some suggest it could have something to do with the effect of sweeteners on neurotransmitters (like serotonin and dopamine), but evidence isn’t super clear yet. Regardless, we’d rather stay away from the fake stuff and just use the real stuff in moderation.
2. Excess caffeine
We all know that jittery-jumpy-fidgety feeling that can come with drinking too much caffeine. And often that feeling lasts way longer than we anticipated at 3 pm (hello, wide eyes and mind racing long after midnight).
From our experience, especially when we’re feeling stressed out, that extra cup of joe can make us feel extra edgy. So turn to herbal tea, matcha, or simply a glass of water. You’ll get all the hydration without the potential for irritable sleepless nights.
3. Processed foods
Research shows that eating processed foods, particularly foods high in refined sugar, can lead to feelings of depression. Whereas, a diet with quality nutrition can boost a person’s overall well-being. Just another reason to load up on your veggies and fruits!
4. Too much alcohol
Like caffeine, experts say alcohol can just make stressful situations even more stressful. Not to mention, alcohol requires lots of energy to metabolize, which can ultimately lead to more stress on our bodies.
5. High sodium foods
There’s no question that salt is essential to our diets. But too much of it can lead to bloat and overall feelings of bleh. Plus, too much sodium has been shown to elevate blood pressure and potentially increase risk of cardiovascular disease.
Here are some foods typically high in sodium to consume in moderation: salted nuts, canned beans/soups, frozen dinners, pretzels, and sauces.
6. Excess refined sugar
Sweet treats usually come with a quick “high” burst, followed by a “low.” (It has something to do with how sugar impacts our blood sugar levels). We’re definitely not saying to skip on sweets altogether (now, that would produce anxiety for us!), but try to keep those sugary servings in moderation.
Are you spending more time in your kitchen lately? Check out these posts!
- Want an eco-friendly kitchen? Here’s how to make it happen
- How to grow an herb garden at home
- 25 simple ways to be the most eco-friendly cook