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"Nutrition for Mental Well-being: Can a Healthy Diet Reduce Anxiety and Stress?"




So you had a bad day. You woke up to the kids being sick, stepped in dog poo, and got yelled at by your boss for being late. As the day progresses, perhaps you forgot to do that really important thing and spilled lunch on your shirt. As if the evening commute isn't enough to make you snap, you need to swing by a drug store to get your sick kids what they need to feel better. By the end of this gloriously not-so-great day, a tall glass of wine, cheese, fries from your favorite fast food place, or a sugary bowl of ice-cream is just what will make you feel better in the moment.


But does it...make you feel better?


When we are stressed, we tend to crave comfort foods because the elevated stress hormone, cortisol, turns on the signals in the brain that says we need "sugar and fuel" stat! Think pastas, donuts, crackers, cookies, potatoes. While these are all delicious, and may feel satisfying in the moment, they really do nothing to help us alleviate our stress.


Comfort eating can make us feel worse!




Research shows that one of the best tools we have to manage stress is our nutrition. When we eliminate foods that we know inflame us, like sugar, it actually brings cortisol down in our body.


Let me say this differently. When we eat inflammatory foods like sugar or processed fast food, it actually increases cortisol into the system therefore contributing to anxiety, stress, and even depression.


So, when we eat a nutritious and balanced meal, we support our brain and hormonal health.

By incorporating a variety of healthy food options into our diet, our body is more optimally prepared to cope with stressful situations.


Here are some foods to consider when managing stress:


1. Whole Grains:


Carbohydrates in the form of whole grains like brown rice,

quinoa, or oats can help boost serotonin levels in the brain.

Serotonin is a mood-regulating neurotransmitter that can help alleviate stress.


2. Fruits and Vegetables:


Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation in the body. This helps your body cope better with stress be decreasing cortisol. They are also high in vitamins and minerals that your body needs for healthy levels of neurotransmitters and hormones to balance our mood.


3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids:


Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines can help support an optimally healthy brain because lipids provide building blocks for healthy nerve tissue and


4. Herbal Teas:


Herbs like chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm have been found to have a calming effect on the body. Drinking tea made from these herbs can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.


5. Probiotics:


The gut is often referred to as the second brain, as it plays a significant role in regulating our moods. Probiotics, found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi, can help keep our gut bacteria healthy and balanced.


It's important to note that incorporating these foods into your diet is just one aspect of

managing stress. Exercise, mindfulness, and getting enough sleep are also crucial in

maintaining good mental health.


To learn more about how to manage your stress, check out our online course for professionals! This is a self-paced 6-module course that takes you through the stages of stress and teaches you how to overcome it.



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