Eating for calm in 5 ways

‘You are what you eat’

What you eat matters and is a foundation to having a strong natural resilience to anxiety and depression. I believe that it is no coincidence that the rise of obesity has happened at the same time as the increase in poor mental health. Our society and social norms of overeating, consuming junk food and low activity levels are with no doubt a huge contribution to the status of poor mental health. We are malnourished and for example a known symptom of being low in the vitamin B group of vitamins (which have an important job in our nervous system) is anxiety, being low in iron can cause heart palpitations and headaches (a common deficiency), being low in vitamin D (just as common) low mood and depression! Yet, food and mood or poor mental health are very rarely talked about together.

Stress wreaks havoc!

Stress can wreak havoc on our bodies, increasing blood pressure and heighten the risk of heart attack as well as impacting on our immune system, causing us to be ill more often. Avoid the traditional comfort food (I understand this may take a habit change for many, but so worth it) which may include pizza or ice-cream as these foods will result in feelings of lethargy, mood swings and ultimately less able to cope with stress. There are a few things we want to tackle with our diet in stressful situations and one is balancing our blood sugars to avoid the irritability and mood swings, another is to flood our bodies with a range of antioxidants to boost our immunity and protect it from the effects of stress and then also to consume foods which support a healthy blood pressure and those that promote an increase in serotonin levels, the feel good hormone. Including the foods below into your day will protect your energy and help you bounce back from any stressful situation.

I will give you some specific tips here, but if in doubt the main thing is you reduce the processed foods, in particular, high sugar foods and eat whole foods, a good range of fruit and vegetables, whole grains and a range of healthy protein sources. Also, keep hydrated with water and herbal teas, avoiding too much caffeine.

1.Keeping your blood sugars stable will help your mood.

If you are a parent this is extremely helpful for concentration levels and avoiding irritability (let’s face it a godsend for our sanity and mental health). Firstly, avoid or reduce foods high on the glycemic scale causing a spike in sugars and a crash, these include junk food, white bread, bagels, Lucozade etc, and increase foods low on the glycemic index (ideally under 50 on the GI scale) e.g. lentils, beans, whole grains, porridge, carrots, peppers, onions, cherries and dried apricots.

To learn more about the Glycemic foods and which foods to choose or swap, check the ‘The British Dietetic association’ link below:

2. Consume foods that are rich in magnesium to help you feel calm.

These include green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds, avocado, dark chocolate, and bananas.

Find out more about the miracle that is magnesium and why it is essential to get enough here:

Top 10 Magnesium Rich Foods Plus Proven Benefits

3. Small amounts of protein and healthy fats with every meal help to stabilise blood sugars and also provide you with a range of nutrients to boost your immunity.

A good way to remember is a palm size of protein which could include beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, oily fish or eggs with a little coconut oil, avocado or nuts and seeds carry a powerful combination of nutrients including protein and healthy fats. Mixing your emails with a balance of these nutrients and adding plenty of veggies will fill you up, satiate you in the most wonderful way and support a positive mental health.
4. Consume foods high in the amino acid tryptophan.
Tryptophan is suggested to be a natural mood regulator because it helps the body produce and balance certain hormones, in particular, the feel-good hormone serotonin. It is possible to supplement with this amino acid as with others and amino acid therapy is becoming more popular, however, the best way is to consume a variety of foods containing a range of amino acids. The following foods are good sources of tryptophan and so including the will help uplift you, help you sleep better and possibly help you burn fat: Bananas, sesame seeds, cashews, walnuts, whole grain oats, quinoa or brown rice, spirulina, beans, chickpeas, chia seeds, linseeds etc.
5. Quick easy tip to release tension:
Often in times of stress we tighten everything and crunching raw vegetables can help release the tension. Furthermore, being mindful when you are eating, slowing down, chewing well and feeling thankful for the food you are eating is a really good way of being present and calming down.
I hope these 5 tips to eating to reduce stress help calm you and support you in living an amazing life. As always if I can help in anyway please get in touch.
If you would like more tips for coping with negativity or are struggling with energy vampires, you will love podcast number 3 from Subscribe on iTunes and let us know what you think.

lots of love and light,
Kelly x

Leave a Reply