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Eating To Soothe Stress And Anxiety

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Anxiety is a very real but often invisible mental health problem that affects a large number of people throughout their lives. Official estimates suggest that at least 18% of the population will experience some form of ongoing anxiety problem in their lives.

Eating to soothe stress and anxiety is one of the very simplest acts of self-care we can engage in. It may seem strange that food can have an impact on our mental health in this way, but today I’m going to explain why!

Healthy Eating: Back to basics

Healthy eating is often portrayed as a complicated concept. With so much conflicting expert information available to us, it’s easy to become confused and not know how to eat well.

In my opinion, one of the best things to do when it comes to food, is simply to get back to basics. Swapping diets and calorie counting for a more simple approach can do wonders for our health and mindset.

It can be easy to view the food we eat as something that only impacts our physical health and weight—but it is so much more than that!

What we eat influences our energy levels, our mood, our happiness, and so much more. If you aren’t fuelling your body with the good stuff, then you may begin to notice that one or more aspects of your health is affected. And, your stress levels and feelings of anxiety are no exception.

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Sources Of Stress & Anxiety

There are so many reasons why stress can seep into your everyday life. This could come from your job, your relationships, your family, your finances….literally any number of places. Although it isn’t always possible to resolve a stressful situation entirely, there are ways to mitigate the impact it has on your life.

In one of my previous blog posts, I have shared Six Ways To Tackle Stress, and I encourage you to check those tips out!

When it comes to anxiety, this is something you may experience any time for a number of reasons. Anxiety can come present for understandable reasons, but also for irrational ones. We can’t always control how our brains respond to a perceived threat or difficult situation, and that’s when anxiety can really take hold.

To learn more about anxiety, and how to overcome it, check out my past post on A Natural Approach To Easing Anxiety.

Eating To Soothe Stress & Anxiety

Deliberately including foods in your diet that are going to help alleviate feelings of stress is such a great idea — both for your mental health and overall sense of wellbeing.

Research suggests that eating a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and lean proteins, can be an effective way to promote feelings of calm.

So, what are some of the very best foods to include to defeat your stress and anxiety?

Brazil Nuts for Anxiety

Brazil nuts are such a fantastic choice when it comes to helping tackle stress.

These tasty nuts are packed full of selenium, which is an antioxidant that will help to lessen inflammation in the body. Chronic stress — stress that is persistent over a long period of time — can actually increase inflammation. This can then lead to a whole host of health problems. Helping to reduce inflammation can in turn help to expel the physical manifestation of stress throughout your body.

Additionally, Brazil nuts are high in vitamin E. A deficiency of this vitamin has been shown to contribute to the onset of depression, which can then make feelings of stress much harder to cope with.

Try to eat two or three Brazil nuts every day to feel the benefits!

Dark Chocolate for Anxiety

No list of stress-busting foods would be complete without dark chocolate.

dark chocolate healthy eating

We most usually think of chocolate as an indulgent treat, but it can also actually be super healthy!

Dark chocolate contains an abundance of polyphenols, which are compounds that can improve the flow of blood to the brain. This type of chocolate is also a rich source of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin — the feel good chemical — in the brain.

When it comes to eating chocolate to soothe stress, moderation is the key. A small serving of just two or three grams is ample, and can be enjoyed as a sweet dessert after dinner.

Turmeric for Stress

Adding turmeric into meals and smoothies is a subtle but helpful way to help combat stress and anxiety.

This distinctive spice is believed to help lower oxidative stress and give a boost to those struggling with mood disorders. Studies have shown that it can be of benefit to people who are experiencing anxiety. This is thanks in part to how it can raise levels of DHA — a type of omega-3 that has mood balancing properties.

Just a dash of turmeric in a smoothie or added into a meal each day is a good start. You may also want to check out turmeric supplements to really get a good dose in your diet.

Herbal Tea for Stress

There is such a wide range of healthy herbal teas available, and so many of them have a soothing effect on your stress levels and anxiety.

Great flavors to choose for this purpose are chamomile, lavender, peppermint, lemon balm, and valerian.

Herbal teas are great for tackling inflammation in the body, as well as promoting relaxation and a calm state of mind.

The act of preparing and drinking a herbal tea also doubles up as self-care act, as you are taking this time to nurture and nourish yourself.

Food As Self-Care

When you make a conscious effort to care for your body through the dietary choices you make, then you are showing yourself both self-love and kindness.

Over time, this can be a powerful way to tackle stress and anxiety, as your self-esteem begins to grow.

Is Your Current Diet Triggering Your Anxiety Levels?

I want to address dietary issues that can make it worse. When a person is already suffering with an anxiety disorder, it is incredibly important not to add to this problem. There are several dietary triggers that are easy to avoid. And, in doing so, you can potentially promote a greater sense of calm and control.


Sugar is a big one when it comes to our mood. Consuming even small amounts of refined sugar can wreak havoc with our energy levels and state of mind. This is because it causes a rapid boost in blood sugar which is then inevitably followed by a crash.

When this crash occurs we can experience fatigue, irritation and anxiety. Avoiding sugar altogether and eating foods which regulate our blood sugar, as opposed to spiking it, will help us avoid this problem.


Caffeine is known to be a trigger for people with anxiety. Drinking too much coffee can have powerful stimulant effects and for many people it does become a sort of addiction.

When you drink coffee you become more alert and this can lead us to overthink certain situations. Even if you do not recognise this as a trigger for your anxiety, try avoiding it for a couple of days and monitor your mood during this time. You may find that you are calmer and more relaxed throughout the day.

Getting Enough Sleep

As well as avoiding sugar and coffee you should certainly check if you are getting enough sleep. People who have an anxiety issue can often find it more difficult to get to sleep, but then this lack of sleep can cause the anxiety to intensify. This vicious cycle of sleep deprivation can be incredibly damaging to your mental health and it is important to try and get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.

Yoga and meditation late in the evening are both positive ways to promote relaxation and encourage sleep. Try 30 minutes of either practice before bed and see if this makes a difference to your sleep pattern. You might also find that without sugar and caffeine sleep comes more easily to you!

Your Diet

If you eradicate sugar and caffeine from your diet but still find that your energy is low and your mood is unstable, then it would be advisable to analyse the rest of your diet. Make sure you are eating a variety of wholesome, plant-based foods that will keep your blood sugar steady throughout the day. Also, make sure that you do not skip a meal and try to include some healthy snacks during the day. You will keep your metabolism stimulated as well as satisfying your stomach and mind!

How to Tackle Anxiety and Depression

There are a wide range of reasons why a person might struggle with anxiety and depression. So it’s impossible to say that everyone can benefit from the same advice. However, there are certain things at the core of these mental health issues that people may share. These things can pertain to a prolonged traumatic experience, an isolated incident or a genetic pre-disposition – to name just a few!

Regardless of the initial reasons why anxiety or depression may have struck, there are certain ways to address these issues. This can help to work towards a resolution and an improved general quality of life.

Seeking Professional Help

First, and arguably the most conventional solution, you may find that seeking professional help and guidance is the best way to address your struggles.

Talking therapy is an especially constructive way of getting to the root of your problems and for equipping yourself with coping mechanisms. The validation and clarity that therapy can provide can be a key turning point on the road to recovery for many people. Your GP will be able to put the wheels in motion for you if you are unable to seek a private therapist.

Embrace Self-Care and Compassion

On a more personal level, finding ways to care for and have compassion for yourself is a useful skill to master. This can take many forms, but essentially means that you will always recognise and prioritise your own needs.

It also means being more supportive and forgiving of yourself and your mistakes. Doing so can help you to always be aware that your feelings and emotions are completely valid and that any negativity can be overcome.

Having a belief in your own personal strength can help to build your self worth which can be useful in overcoming anxiety and depression. Every difficult thing that you have experienced in your life has helped you to grow as a person, and with each incident you will have undoubtedly become a stronger person. Take the time to give yourself credit for this and to understand that you have the potential to overcome any challenging experience.

Know Your Boundaries

Finally, figure out what your boundaries are and make sure that anybody who is present in your life knows what these boundaries are.

Don’t be afraid to say no to things you are uncomfortable with. Be sure not to compromise your boundaries in any circumstances and always re-iterate to yourself that they are important.

Get Inspired

I hope you will be inspired by the advice I have shared, and will incorporate these ideas into your own life.

To help you progress with this concept, I have put together my top ten tips for keeping on top of stress and anxiety.

Click to sign up to my Get Inspired Newsletter and receive these tips immediately to your inbox!

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