Foods that FIGHT Stress



HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who came out to the workshop last Thursday! What an inspiring night filled with food, fitness, and fabulous friends.


Here is a recap of what we covered 🙂


Important Vocab:     images

Cortisol – Known as the ‘stress hormone’. In small amounts, it has important functions (heightened memory, increased immunity) but when secreted in large amounts it can lead to high blood pressure and inflammation.

Serotonin – A chemical, specifically a neurotransmitter that is responsible for “maintaining mood balance”. Deficits in serotonin levels can lead to depression.


How and Why “Stress” is making us “Fat”

When we are stressed out, our stress-related hormones start to kick in (norepinephrine, epinephrine, and cortisol). It is normal for these hormone levels to fluctuate during the day, but with chronic stress, our cortisol level stays elevated.

When your stress and cortisol levels are high, the body holds onto fat cells and resists losing weight. Your body thinks times are hard and you might starve, so it protects the fat you eat and the fat you have present on your body.

In addition, cortisol often takes fat from areas like your butt and hips, and moves it to your abdomen which has more cortisol receptors. Belly flat can be unflattering, but is also very dangerous (visceral fat: the fat in your abdomen that surrounds your organs).

Finally, the more belly fat you have, the more active cortisol will be converted by these enzymes — yet another vicious cycle created by visceral fat.



What to do about it???

Finding a few methods that relieve stress in your life is key. These could be as simple as taking a walk or a hot bath, talking with friends, reading a book, or exercising. In addition, the foods that we eat can help our bodies lower stress which lowers our cortisol levels, and can help us lose weight; specifically, belly fat.



Asparagus – Filled with Folic Acid, a mood-boosting nutrient!

Avocados – Are high in potassium, monounsaturated fats, and B vitamins. They may help to reduce high blood pressure.

Bananas – A good source of potassium, which has been shown to lower blood pressure.

Black tea – Some studies have found that is lowers cortisol levels in the body.

Blueberries – Packing with antioxidants and vitamin C, which help to suppress cortisol’s negative effects on the body.

Chamomile tea – High in flavonoids which are praised for their relaxing properties.

Cinnamon – Some studies have found that it eases frustration.

Complex carbs – Whole grains, veggies, beans, sweet potatoes, oatmeal! – help release & increase serotonin levels (which fights anxiety). Most are also filled with vitamins and fiber, which help us to stay full for longer. Stress-B-Gone J

Dark Chocolate – Contains flavonoids and phenethylamine, which help us to relax, and improve our mood. Look for a chocolate with at least 70% cacao.

Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, etc) – The Omega 3 fatty acids help release serotonin & prevent surges in cortisol (stress related hormone) & adrenaline. They may also help to prevent heart disease, depression and PMS. Aim to eat 3oz of Omega-3 rich fish, 3x/week.

Green tea – L-theanine is the amino acid found in green tea. It has been linked to keeping us calm.

Herbal supplements – St. John’s Wart has been shown to fight stress, according to some studies.

Kale – Filled with an antioxidant called ‘carotenoids’, a recent study at Harvard University found that people who consumed more carotenoids were more optimistic.

Milk – Warm milk (skim milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc.) has been proven to relieve anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness. It has also been linked to decreased mood swings related to PMS. Plus, most ‘milks’ are high in antioxidants, vitamins B2 and B12, and are a good source of calcium! The potassium in milk can also help relieve muscle spasms triggered by tension and stress.

Nuts & Seeds – Almonds, Cashews Pistachios, Walnuts, Pumpkin seeds & Sunflower seeds are filled with vitamins, fiber and ‘good’ unsaturated fats. These foods may lower blood pressure & cholesterol, ease inflammation in the arteries, and lower your chances of getting Type 2 Diabetes. Aim for ¼ cup/day.

Olive Oil – Has been linked to boosting serotonin levels.

Oranges – Rich in vitamin C, which has been linked to lowering blood pressure and cortisol.

Spinach (and some other dark, leafy greens) – The magnesium in it prevents headaches, fights fatigue and improves your body’s response to stress.

Sweet Potatoes – Rich in vitamins, carotenoids and fiber. They boost your mood while keeping you full.

Turkey – The amino acid tryptophan tells our brain to release serotonin.

Veggies – Have lots of vitamins! Snacking on raw veggies has been shown to take away tension because of the crunchiness. Snack away!


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