Managing Stress Through Diet

Stress is something most of us deal with on the regular.

From the never-ending inbox full of emails to the “to do” list that always has boxes unchecked. We know we are supposed to manage our stress, but if you’re like most people, it has a way of getting the best of us at times.

Diet, thankfully, is one way to help us stay protected against the negative impacts stress has on our health.

Incorporate as many of these healthy foods into your diet to help you combat the effects of stress.

Foods containing Tryptophan.

Tryptophan is an amino acid found in Turkey, soy, pumpkin seeds, shrimp, and dairy products. This amino acid is the sole precursor of “peripherally and centrally produced serotonin” (Jenkins, Nguyen, Polglaze, et al 2016). Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of happiness and wellbeing.

Low levels of serotonin are associated with anxiety and depression. One of my favorite snacks I recommend to my nutrition clients is organic deli turkey. This food is low in fat, moderate in sodium, and will help you stay feeling satiated mid-day while also helping you reach your protein goals.

Broccoli, asparagus, and Brussel sprouts.

These veggies are high in folic acid, a vitamin directly related to serotonin production. Shoot for one serving a day (one cup). Roast your veggies in the oven with some olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

I suggest using a baking sheet, roll out a piece of parchment paper and put on the sheet, place your veggies on top, and drizzle the olive oil over them. Then add your preferred spices. You can meal prep these at the beginning of the week and add to your meals as you go!

Fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin C.

Choose brightly colored veggies (red, yellow, orange peppers) and fruits. Shoot for 3 servings a day. Natural forms of vitamin C (meaning coming from foods and not supplements) can assist in lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels- two hormones directly related to the stress response.

If you struggle to get in enough fruits and veggies throughout the day, I suggest starting with baby food pouches (no joke!). The squeezie pouches available in the baby food aisle are an easy way to get in a mix of fruits and vegetables. Choose the organic variety and shoot for a minimum of two pouches a day.

These are just a few suggestions to help you navigate life as an adult.

Small amounts of stress in short bouts can be a good thing for us. However chronic stress over days and weeks can wreak massive havoc on our bodies.

In addition to making sure you’re eating well, getting enough sleep (8 hours a night) and getting daily sunshine can help you stay strong and healthy.

Need help making healthy nutrition a habit? Check out my preset meal plans! Multiple options for you to learn how to meal prep and eat well- including a private Facebook group!

References
Jenkins, T., Nguyen, J.,
Polglaze, K., & Bertrand, P. (2016). Influence of tryptophan and serotonin
on mood and cognition with a possible role of the gut-brain axis. Nutrients8(1), 56.
My mission is to help everyone I can become the healthiest, strongest versions of themselves. I am a Crossfit coach, athlete, Health and Nutrition coach, Movement Rehab Specialist, and a grad student completing my masters in Kinesiology with a focus on integrative wellness.

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