Mindfulness Living,  Self-Care

You are what you eat: Reducing Stress through the Gut

How many stress eaters do we have out there? What about those of you who get so stressed that you cant even eat? I use to be somewhere in the middle. Not too long ago there was a time when I felt stressed and nothing but a big ole bowl of pasta could fix it. Sadly I also swung to the other extreme where I would stress to the point that I neglected to eat or take proper care of myself. Talk about both ends of the spectrum, am I right?

Anxiety is a sign and symptom of stress + stress can present itself in whatever way it wants from physical, mental to emotional. Growing up in the South (shout-out to all my Carolina peeps), I learned a thing or two about “Comfort Food” and eating food that was good for the soul. Now alot has changed since being a little girl eating smothered this or that, mac n cheese with 5 different cheeses, fatbacks and more. What I learned as a kid so long ago is there are healing properties in food and that food has the ability to change your mood. Its funny how we pick up on things as children that stick with us as adults.

Now as an adult my overall palette and lifestyle has evolved and long gone are the days that I would reach for anything that isnt plant based. So does that mean I miss out on “comfort food”? No, not at all! My view of “Comfort food” has shifted and the old approach of eating what makes me feel good in the moment and not so good later on has officially backed its bags! These days I find myself reaching for foods that not only nourish me but has the added bonus benefits of boosting my mood.

There are actually a ton of different foods that in their natural state create positive reactions inside the body when digested. Here are a few go-to’s that I find myself reaching for to help regulate those moments of stress and anxiety.

Chamomile: Not just a tea! I love adding chamomile to my night time routine to begin winding down from the day. Chamomile is high in antitoxins and is known as a inflammation reducer.

Dark Chocolate: Delicious and high in tryptophan which creates mood enhancing neurotransmitters like serotonin. A great little treat that provides a little sweetness to those with a sweet tooth.

Avocados: A super food! What I love about avocados is not only are they RICH in Vitamin B which is known to decrease anxiety but avocados are so universal in how you can consume them. You can enjoy as is with some salt and pepper, add as a spread to a sandwich, or even make guacamole!

Blueberries: Yummy little treats! Blueberries carry a heavy punch of antioxidants that has been proven in studies to reduce anxiety and depression. An added bonus is there are so many ways to add blueberries to your life from eating them as is, popping them in a smoothie or adding them to yogurt.

Chia Seeds: Small yet mighty chia seeds are also very high in omega-3 fatty acids which is known to also decrease stress. Chia seeds can be added to just about anything to increase nutritional value of any meal.

The list of stress reducing foods is actually pretty large and surprisingly so many items can provide mood boosting and regulating capabilities. When looking for foods to add to your stress- relief tool kit here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding which to add. Look for foods that are antioxidant rich, high in vitamin B, leafy greens, fruits high in Vitamin C, nuts and/or seeds.

What powerhouse foods are you adding to your diet to boost your mood?

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