Stress and anxiety creeps up on you when you least expect it. Work, school and family responsibilities are enough to give you stress or anxiety.
But then life throws you a curveball — your husband gets laid-off from his job, your car breaks down or there is a death in the family.
All these can really stress someone out and cause anxiety or panic attacks.
Generally people are prescribed pills or some kind of therapy to treat anxiety and stress – did you ever think your diet could help?
Below is 17 foods and drinks you can have that help calm your anxiety and stress. Most are simple easy to snack on foods that require no prep.
Now that I’ve taken the time to write out these 17 food items to help you out – please, take care of your body by trying one or 2 of these foods/drinks right now.
I really hope you practice some self care and give one a try.
What causes stress and/or anxiety? Here is a simple list:
- An exam or test.
- An important doctors appointment.
- A big presentation you have to give at work or school.
- Making a big decision that could change your life.
- Your car breaking down/flat tire.
- Someone stealing your purse.
- A friend or family member being diagnosed with an illness or a friend or family member dying.
- Moving to a new place.
- Starting a new job.
- Losing a pet.
- Having a child with health issues.
- Losing your job.
- …. so many other things can cause stress or anxiety and even little things like burning dinner when you have guests on their way over for your dinner party.
Foods for Anxiety:
1. Banana reduces anxiety quickly!
Did you know that eating a banana about ½ an hour before doing something that causes you anxiety will help calm your nerves?
So say you had a big performance and you get stage fright. Well, just before the performance, eat a banana! Timing is key!
Bananas are natural beta blockers. According to healthextremist.com, beta blockers are given to patients (in pharmaceutical form) to help with anxiety, blood pressure or heart conditions. Banana does the same thing, if you time it right.
- Eat 1 or 2 bananas right before your stressful event.
- If you still feel stress or anxiety, take a break and swallow down another half way through.
- Always keep a banana in your purse or bag if you lead a stressful life at school or work and know you’ll need it to help calm you down.
2. Fermented foods help with anxiety.
As cited in NevadaToday by UNR.edu, stress can disrupt the balance between good and bad bacteria. Bad bacteria can cause anxious behavior and fermented foods (which contain probiotics) have been shown bring balance back to your system and reduce anxiety and panic attacks. Pretty cool, huh!
FERMENTED FOOD OPTIONS:
- Kimchi – a korean treat made of spicy fermented cabbage. Have by itself as a snack or with rice.
- Kefir – a creamy treat. Comes with flavors and sometimes has added fruit. Similar to yogurt only thinner.
- Natto – Made of fermented soybeans. Be cautious though, the flavor isn’t for everyone.
- Kombucha – a fermented tea. You can find kombucha in the cold section of most supermarkets. You could also make your own!
- Tempeh – made with soybeans usually. It’s a “meat alternative”. You can use it in stir-fry’s, bake it, fry it, steam it, BBQ it. Some even crumble it and use it in soups or chili.
- Miso – used in Asian foods, one of the most popular uses is making a simple miso soup.
- Sauerkraut – made from cabbage. Popular in German food.
- Injera bread – a staple in Ethiopian food. A flat bread served with Ethiopian dishes.
- Sourdough bread – bread widely used in the USA for sandwiches or garlic bread.
- Yogurt – plain, fruit flavored, Greek – any are fine.
3. Enjoy a square of dark chocolate for peace of mind.
Dark chocolate increases serotonin in the brain which helps ease stress & anxiety. It also contains flavonols which are antioxidants that help boost brain function.
WAYS TO EAT MORE DARK CHOCOLATE:
- Keep a bar in your desk at work. Grab a square when you’re feeling the stress. You deserve it.
- Keep a bar of dark chocolate at home. Eat 2-3 squares for dessert. Not only is it better for you than most desserts, but it will also help calm your mind.
- Powdered Dark Chocolate is also good to use in recipes for cakes or brownies.
4. Sprinkle some turmeric to help with your nerves.
Turmeric contains a polyphenol called curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to provide many health benefits. One includes reducing the effects that stress and anxiety has on your body.
According to LifeExtension.com curcumin reverses harmful brain changes that are caused by stressful events. Now that’s some good stuff!!
WAYS TO GET TURMERIC INTO YOUR DIET:
- Add some to a smoothie!
- Cook with it. Make some Indian inspired dishes, or just add it to a stir fry.
- Make this wonderful golden milk drink.
5. Grab a handful of blueberries
It’s all about the vitamin C when it comes to blueberries. In case you didn’t know – Vitamin C helps with anxiety and depression relief! Pretty cool right?
TIPS FOR BLUEBERRIES:
- Buy fresh or frozen, both are great.
- I like to keep a bag of frozen in my freezer and pop a couple in my mouth as I please, especially in the summer, they’re a great snack.
- Add to a smoothie! There’s nothing better than blueberries in a smoothie.
- Make some muffins! Blueberry muffins are so yummy. Especially these lemon blueberry ones here.
6. Spinach (+ all leafy green veggies)
Magnesium is found in spinach or other dark leafy greens. One of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency is anxiety. Eat your dark leafy greens, skip the anxiety!
WAYS TO GET MORE DARK LEAFY GREENS INTO YOUR DIET:
- Add leafy greens to a smoothie. This is good for anyone who doesn’t “like” greens – you won’t even notice them in a smoothie.
- Add to a pasta sauce. Leafy greens shrink really well when cooked. Add a couple handfuls to a tomato based spaghetti sauce and stir until the spinach wilts.
- Eat as a salad. Add some tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, olives, or any other veggies you’d like.
Omega 3’s are found in salmon. For brain health, eat your Omega 3’s. Omega 3’s are also beneficial for calming your anxiety, so eat up!
WAYS TO GET THE BENEFITS OF SALMON:
- Salmon can be grilled or baked.
- A popular way people eat salmon is raw – like in Sushi!!
- Eat on salads, sandwiches or as a main dish.
- Take a fish oil supplement that contains the same fats that help your anxiety and stress.
You’ve probably heard of tryptophan and how it can relax you. Around Thanksgiving many people are eating turkey and tend to doze off afterwards. That’s the effect that tryptophan will give you. Relaxation!
WAYS TO EAT TURKEY
- Have a Sandwich
- Add to a salad
- Eat it as a Main dish
9. Reishi Mushrooms are magical.
Reishi mushrooms are not hallucinogenic “magical”, but truly magical because of the mood-enhancing compound triterpene.
According to Healthline.com these compounds help you sleep better, help reduce anxiety and help with depression.
WAYS TO CONSUME REISHI MUSHROOMS
- There is reishi powder that you can make a tea with.
- Add the reishi powder to your smoothie.
- Add fresh mushrooms to soups.
- Grill the mushrooms for a side dish.
10. Have a bowl of oats
According to popsugar.com, oats contain tryptophan, melatonin, B6 and magnesium – all of which help calm your nerves and relax your mind.
If you’re anxious or can’t sleep – have a bowl of oats.
WAYS TO EAT OATS:
- Make a bowl of oatmeal. You can eat this any time of day, not just breakfast!
- Add some oats to a smoothie.
- Prepare overnight oats ahead of time, if you know you have a stressful the next day and won’t have time to prepare your oats in the morning. That way, you can still eat a calming bowl of oats.
- Add a banana or blueberries for added calming benefits.
11. Sip Some Chamomile Tea to Calm Your Mind
Chamomile has been used for thousands of years to help calm the mind + many other beneficial uses. According to verywellmind.com, chamomile is available as capsules, tinctures and teas.
Many people use it as a sleep aid or as a calming tea for stress or anxiety.
WAYS TO CONSUME CHAMOMILE:
- Purchase chamomile tea bags and make a hot tea to drink. 1-4 cups of tea a day is recommended, as needed.
- If you want to take a pill supplement – adults are recommended 400-1600 mg a day in divided doses. Experiment to see what works for you. If you need more, take more. If it’s to much, take less.
- Tincture – adults can consume 1-3 tsp per day as needed. Drop into your mouth for consumption.
If you suffer from B12 or Folate deficiency, then you might experience depression.
According to DailyMeal.com – getting the proper amount of these nutrients is vital to proper neurological function.
Just 1 cup cooked asparagus (about 10 spears) gives you 50% of what you need of these nutrients. So eat up!
HOW TO COOK ASPARAGUS:
- The simplest way to cook asparagus is to steam it. Steam for about 5-10 minutes. Squeeze some lemon juice and pepper and enjoy.
- You could also grill it on a BBQ, might need to put in a metal pan so it doesn’t fall between the grill slats. Grill for about 5-10 min. I like to toss with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, salt and pepper first.
- Some people eat it raw in a salad. Chop up and add to a salad.
- Saute in a veggie stir-fry.
13. Avocado is beneficial for calming your nerves.
According to Vivala.com, avocados are rich in B vitamins which help release serotonin and dopamine which boost your mood and help relieve stress and anxiety.
WAYS TO EAT MORE AVOCADO:
- Mash it up and make guacamole. Dip some chips in it or cucumber slices and you’ve got a healthy and happy snack.
- Add ½ an avocado to a smoothie.
- Add slices to a salad.
- Add slices or mashed avocado to a sandwich or burger.
- Make avocado toast.
- Eat it as it is. Take bites with a spoon or fork. Add some salt, or balsamic vinegar for a little extra flavor.
14. Kiwi Fruit brings peace from Anxiety
The alternativedaily.com shared a survey done with 54 healthy young male adults. ½ were given ½ a kiwi a day, the other half were given 2 a day.
After 6 weeks, the study showed that those who ate 2 a day had less depression and fatigue and were more energized and loving life.
Kiwis contain Vitamin C. This essential vitamin helps to protect the body from the effects of stress and it fights free radicals.
WAYS TO EAT MORE KIWI:
- Eat as is – as a snack.
- Add to your smoothie.
- Make a fruit salad.
- Eat for dessert.
15. Oranges and vitamin C Boost your Mood
They contain Vitamin C which boosts your mood and reduces stress and anxiety. Just the smell of oranges has been shown to help with this. Therefore orange essential oil will also reduce your anxiety.
- Eat as a snack.
- Drink orange juice – try to squeeze your own using a hand squeezer or juicer. No sugar added is always best.
- Use essential oils:
- add a drop to your laundry.
- Add a drop to your wrist and rub in and breathe in the smell.
- Add some drops to a diffuser (follow directions for your diffuser).
16. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts contain the nutrient selenium. Selenium helps improve mood and reduces stress and anxiety.
HOW TO EAT:
- Grab a handful and eat as a snack.
- Add a handful to a smoothie.
- Blend up and sprinkle on a salad.
As mentioned earlier, magnesium helps keep your mind calm and keeps the anxiety and stress at bay. Almonds are full of magnesium so eat them up!
WAYS TO EAT THEM:
- Simply eat as a snack.
- Purchase or make your own almond butter. Kind of like peanut butter, only made with almonds. Spread onto whole grain bread for a healthy breakfast.
- Throw some in the blender along with your smoothie.
- Chop some up and sprinkle on a salad or stir fry.
★ Anxiety causing foods (AVOID THESE!):
Just in case you didn’t know – there are also foods that can cause stress and anxiety. Here is a handful of them to avoid at all costs!!!
- artificial sweeteners
- hydrogenated oils
- trans fats
- fast food
- processed foods
- foods with gluten
- high sodium foods
Remember, you don’t have to eat all the food on this list. Pick and choose the ones you like to eat and try it. See if it helps you. If it doesn’t, move on to the next one.
Explore new foods. So, go ahead, find what food helps YOU calm your anxiety and stress.