9 Foods That Will Naturally Help You Feel Calmer
There’s stress eating, and then there’s eating to help reduce your stress. While go-tos like mac and cheese and all the bread might feel like soothing bites during these difficult times (and it’s truly okay to eat both those things!), nature provides a beautiful array of foods that are associated with promoting a calming response in the body. Get some Zen with the following foods and recipes.
Walnuts are a great source of alpha-linolenic acid, which has been shown in research to have a mood boosting effect. Add walnuts to your routine as a snack, sprinkled in your cereal or yogurt, or in your baking for an added boost. Or try this recipe for Rainbow Chard with Chanterelles and Walnuts.
Peppermint contains menthol, which is a natural muscle relaxer that can lead to a calming effect. Brew some peppermint tea, toss whole leaves of fresh peppermint into your salads, or make a peppermint pesto. It is also easy to incorporate peppermint into your baking, and these Peppermint Molasses Cookies are sure to become a family favorite.
Berries by their nature are packed with antioxidants, which have been shown to protect your cells from stress and can help ease some depression. Any fresh or frozen berries can be easily incorporated into your diet, but we love this recipe for Warmed Berries with Honey and Fresh Cheese.
Dark chocolate, in addition to being most people’s comfort go-to, offers the added benefit of flavonoids, the antioxidant that can help lower blood pressure and anxiety levels. Note that we are talking about dark chocolate, at least 70% cacao content. A square or two before bed can be a nice calming way to end your evening, or try making these Molten Dark Chocolate Cakes. Just be careful not to eat too much dark chocolate, since the caffeine can have the opposite desired effect and make you more anxious.
One of the minerals that a lot of us don’t get enough of is zinc. But zinc is very helpful on the cellular level for helping manage stress, which is why so many over the counter immunity boosters and cold suppressors include it. Oysters, if you enjoy them, are a great way to get some delicious zinc into your diet, and companies like Island Creek will ship right to your door! Shuck and serve raw with lemon or a mignonette sauce.
Vitamin C is one of the vitamins that can help ease anxiety and promote a sense of calm, and there is no better source than oranges. Eat them as a snack, or try incorporating them into other recipes like this Kale, Jicama, and Orange Salad.
Omega-3 fatty acids are helpful in naturally regulating dopamine and serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitters in our brains. So, a diet rich in them can really help balance your mood! Salmon is a great source, and this recipe for Crispy Sheet Pan Salmon with Lemony Asparagus and Carrots is a perfect way to get started on eating more of it.
Turmeric, in addition to being the “it” spice of the moment, is full of curcumin, which is being studied for its use in promoting brain health and treating anxiety disorders. Golden milk, a hot drink with turmeric and spices, is a calming beverage that many folks are using to start or end their long days (Spicewalla makes an exceptional blend). Second to that sip, look for ways to incorporate turmeric into cooking. Seeing as we’re all making banana bread as part of our baking these days, try Turmeric Banana Bread as a soothing variation.
Magnesium is one of those minerals that are thought to help with feeling calmer, and you can find it in abundance in dark leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, collards, or other greens. Try this Gnocchi with Spinach and Pepper Sauce for a satisfying comfort dinner. If you want to try your hand at homemade gnocchi, it is easier than you might think: Learn how here.