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Ways to Reduce Stress with Healthy Eating

5 Ways to Reduce Stress with Healthy Eating

When we experience stress, the body releases a variety of hormones that are designed to give us an extra boost. Stress can be positive and help us deal with challenging situations by enabling us to focus and react quickly. But chronic stress from things like long-term unemployment, financial pressures or personal problems can be harmful and lead to serious issues such as high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. Stress also has a huge impact on our appetite; many people find they crave sugary foods in times of stress because it’s one of the quickest ways the body can get energy. However, eating these types of unhealthy foods only exacerbates the problem and creates a perpetual cycle of stress, unhealthy eating and more stress. If you feel like your life is filled with constant stressors, here are 5 tips for reducing stress with healthy eating:


Eat Breakfast

Breakfast is often the most neglected meal of the day, yet it’s the most important. When we don’t eat for a long period of time, the body goes into “starvation mode” and starts to shut down certain functions that it considers non-essential for survival. When you don’t eat for long periods of time, your body also produces less serotonin, which is the “happy hormone” that makes us feel good. When you don’t eat for a long period of time, you also become more at risk of stress and anxiety, because your body will be producing more cortisol – the “stressed out” hormone that leaves us feeling edgy and on edge. Eating a healthy breakfast is one of the best ways to reduce stress and keep cortisol levels down. One study found that a healthy breakfast can even help improve our ability to focus and retain information.


Get Moving

Exercise has been proven to be great for reducing stress and anxiety. While it’s important not to overdo it, even brief bouts of physical activity can help clear the mind and ease feelings of tension. Working out also releases endorphins, which are the “happy hormones” that help us unwind and relax. Even a small amount of exercise can have a positive impact on stress levels. But don’t worry if you don’t have time to hit the gym or go for a run; many studies have shown that even light housework can help to reduce stress and anxiety.


Don’t Skip Meals

You may have heard that you should skip meals during times of high stress, but this is actually the worst thing you could do for your body. Skipping meals can cause blood sugar levels to drop, which makes us feel more anxious and stressed. It can also lead to feelings of irritability, poor concentration, headaches and more frequent feelings of hunger. If you are stuck in a busy work schedule, it may be impossible to find the time to sit down and eat each meal. But don’t forget to make time for a healthy snack; even a small amount of food can help to “fill you up” and reduce feelings of stress.


Boost Your Nutrition

Healthy eating is crucial in times of stress. Not only does it provide the energy you need to deal with challenging situations, but it also reduces cortisol levels and helps to keep you calm and relaxed. When you are under a lot of stress, you should be sure to eat plenty of healthy protein to keep you full and satisfied. Healthy fats can also be helpful; one study found that people who ate more healthy fats during stressful times had lower cortisol levels afterwards. Good sources of protein include: chicken, eggs, fish and tofu. Healthy fats include: avocado, coconut oil, fish oils, nuts and seeds.


Cultivate Mindfulness

Being mindful is a great way to reduce stress, anxiety and cravings. It can be achieved by sitting and focusing all of your attention on your breathing and the sensations in your body. Being mindful when you eat can also help you to “slow down” and savor your food, which can help to reduce cravings for unhealthy, sugary snacks. Being mindful can also be helpful when dealing with challenging situations. When you feel stressed out and anxious, it can be helpful to take a step back and try to be mindful of your feelings and thoughts. Being mindful can help you to break the cycle of stress and unhealthy eating and give you the space you need to make positive changes.



There are many ways that you can reduce stress with healthy eating. Eating a healthy breakfast, exercising regularly and making time for mindfulness can all help you to unwind and relax. Incorporating these habits into your daily routine can help you to reduce stress and improve your general health and wellbeing.