How to use food to relieve stress

Food choices to relieve modern day stress

Are you “stressed”?

In this day and age, stress is a normal part of modern life. In this article we define some food choices you can include regularly in your diet to help relieve stress.

You may be familiar with some of these signs and symptoms that can occur in acute (short-term) stress or with ongoing stress:

• Muscle tension
• Increased heart rate
• Sweating
• Energy fluctuations
• Alertness
• Sleep disturbances

• Fatigue
• Sleep disturbances
• Worrying
• Sadness
• Irritability
• Poor concentration
• Weight loss or gain

Stressing out your stress system

Your stress response system was historically designed to kick into save your life.

Nowadays, your stress response is being activated every day rather than just when you come into contact with an immediate threat.

However, this ongoing activation of your nervous system can lead to symptoms of stress and mood disorders that are becoming increasingly common.

Getting the Right Tools

When you are under stress, your overworked stress response system requires even more nutrients than usual.

This is because your body needs vitamins and minerals to produce the hormones and neurotransmitters (the brain’s messengers) required to adapt to the stress and bring the body back into balance.


Focus these simple strategies and food choices every day to keep on top of and relieve your stress:

PROTEIN from fish, lean meats, eggs, legumes and nuts can provide you with amino acids to fuel your brain whilst sustaining you for longer, minimising those stress cravings.  Eat two small servings a day of walnuts, look like a brain, and are good for your brain!

FISH, in particular, contains both protein and essential fats, otherwise known as omega-3 fatty acids which can support a healthy stress response and healthy mood.

B GROUP VITAMINS: B vitamins are needed for healthy mood, motivation and wellbeing. They are vital for producing energy, as well as the neurotransmitters that promote happiness, relaxation and sleep.

MAGNESIUM: When you are stressed, your body may require more magnesium than normal. Magnesium can be beneficial for many things including managing stress and improving energy. You may also know that magnesium is used as a muscle relaxant. Due to its relaxing qualities, it may improve mood and sleep.

HERBAL MEDICINE: There is an abundance of calming herbs that provide effective relief from a wide range of mood or stress symptoms.

• Limit caffeine and alcohol.
• Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugary foods.
• Enjoy a small amount of dark chocolate.
• Enjoy exercise and physical activity.
• Engage in activities that make you happy.
• Try meditation – deep and conscious breathing calms our nervous system.

Feel free to call the clinic if you would like to talk about how to use food to reduce stress or other naturopathic solutions to stress relief.

Morgan, Naturopath

Read more about dealing with stress using a naturopathic approach.