Find Stress Relief Through Food

I had a question on Facebook a little while ago, and it has stayed with me. This reader was really having a tough time dealing with a family illness on top of some intense personal difficulties. She was living the Fast Metabolism Lifestyle and knew she was handling the stress better than in the past, but she wanted to know what else she could do.

When you’re dealing with some major issues, many of us don’t just absorb the stress of the situation itself — we take on everyone else’s stress too. And while it’s tempting to set your own needs aside during these times, keeping your body nourished and your mind relaxed is going to get you through your most stressful days.

Extra Nourishment For Your Body

This is not the time to fall back into those old energy-sapping foods you used to eat: The sugar, the caffeine, the wheat. More than ever, clean eating will keep your body running as well as possible – making it easier for you to cope, or be the caregiver you need to be. Here are some additional dietary tweaks that can bring stress relief.

  • If you’re doing the 28-day Fast Metabolism Diet, extend Phase 1. The adrenal-calming whole grains and fruits in this phase satisfy your cravings for comfort foods. And at the same time, these foods are easy to digest — especially helpful if your situation has forced you into an unusual sleep pattern, or you’re putting in some late hours. You can enhance the benefits of Phase 1 by extending it. When you’re super stressed, try doing three days of Phase 1, two days of Phase 2, and two days of Phase 3.
  • Focus on eating whole grains. Instead of the wheat and pastries, you might have eaten when stressed in the past, focus on wonderful whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and wild rice, which soothe stress without overtaxing your digestive system.
  • Go for high glycemic fruits. Choose mango, pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, and kiwi. These are the most calming to your adrenals, which regulate stress. Calm adrenals mean less release of cortisol, our stress hormone.
  • Stay hydrated. If nothing else, keep drinking natural spring water. All of your body’s organs need water to run properly, and when they don’t get it? You guessed it — more stress. And when you’re dealing with a stressful situation, you tend to breathe more heavily, so your water needs are even higher. Be sure to drink half of your body weight, in ounces, every day.
  • Don’t forget herbal tea. Herbal infusions can help calm you further. Try passionflower, ashwagandha, lemon balm, and Siberian ginseng to help reduce your fight-or-flight hormones. Try valerian root tea; the prescription drug Valium is made from valerian root.
  • Eat foods containing tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that’s essential for creating serotonin (which helps regulate mood) and melatonin (which helps you sleep well). And it’s not just turkey that contains tryptophan. You can find it in legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and cacao.

Food For Your Mind

Stress is as much about the brain as about the body.

  • Add another day of cardio. When you’re under loads of stress, your body’s natural fight-or-flight instincts kick in. It’s in your instincts to run. So give in: find some extra time to sweat. Go for a run, a brisk walk, or find 30 minutes for a Zumba video. When you’re stressed, it may seem that there’s no way to find time for exercise, but if you do, you’ll be rewarded with a clearer head and better ability to prioritize and make decisions.
  • Sniff a little lavender oil. In Aryuvedic medicine, lavender helps your mind decide which thoughts you should hold on to, and which you should release. Lavender becomes the filter for all those thoughts racing through your mind. Rub a drop or two inside your nostrils. You can also sip lavender tea.
  • Try dry brushing. I recommend dry brushing in Phase 3 as an excellent way to move toxins out of the body. But it’s also a wonderful stress reliever. Here’s how to do it.