by Nick Polizzi: I grew up in my mom’s New England restaurant, and the kitchen has always been my sanctuary…
The ritual of making a meal, in and of itself, can bring calmness and deeper connection — but when you prepare herb-infused foods that relax the body, as well as the mind and spirit, you’ve got the perfect dish.
It’s easy to forget to eat… or to eat too much… when we’re stressed. That’s one of the #1 reasons that people experience both weight fluctuation and illness during intense times. Your body desperately needs proper fuel to process emotions, heal tired tissues, and ward off disease.
So today we’re bringing you 5 healing foods (and recipes) that have the power to help calm your entire system.
#1 Berries (of all kinds)
If you’re at all like me, it’s easy to want to eat lots of sugary foods when you’re stressed. That’s an evolutionary reflex that our ancestors passed down to us. Sugar releases dopamine — which makes us feel good in the moment.
But while it may take the edge off — it doesn’t heal you.
So instead of reaching for a tub of ice cream, make sure to have berries on hand!
The antioxidant content, including vitamin C, helps rebuild and fortify cells. Antioxidants also reduce inflammation and can calm down acute anxiety as well as your long-term stress response.
Stress-Be-Gone Smoothie Recipe
- ½ cup chamomile tea – chamomile relaxes tense muscles and calms your central nervous system
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds – helps your body recover from illness twice as fast
- ½ cup almond milk – healthy fat that allows you to hang onto energy from carbs
- 1 frozen banana – boosts memory
- 2 cups mixed berries – antioxidant-rich goodness
- Add all ingredients to a blender (solids first)
- Blend to desired consistency
I highly recommend adding yogurt to your daily routine. If you’re vegan, there are some awesome cashew-based alternatives to traditional dairy yogurt. Yogurt’s probiotic cultures bring new strains of good bacteria to your gut microbiome, making other nutrients available for absorption.
By enabling your body to heal and absorb nutrients more quickly, you allow your body to focus its energy reserves on balancing your neurotransmitters and hormones.
Stress-Free Yogurt Bowl
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt – gut healing probiotics
- 1/2 tbsp goji berries – strengthens immune system + has anti aging properties
- 1/2 tbsp coconut shavings – protects the brain from neurodegenerative disease
- 1/4 cup granola – great source of fiber
- Mix all ingredients together in bowl
- Enjoy immediately OR seal in an airtight jar overnight to let the granola soak up the moisture from the yogurt!
#3 Dark Chocolate
Good news! If you do have a sweet tooth, you’re definitely doing yourself a favor by choosing dark chocolate over a sleeve of Chips Ahoy. Several studies have confirmed that dark chocolate immediately reduces stress. It’s more than just the serotonin release too! Dark chocolate’s antioxidants go deep and heal the adrenal system by reducing the amount of cortisol (the fight-or-flight hormone) in your system.
Also, studies are being done right now on how dark chocolate affects the brain. It’s looking like dark chocolate can bring down inflammation in the brain, which means more blood can flow and you can learn/retain new information more easily!
Brain Boosting Dark Hot Chocolate
- 1 cup almond milk – healthy fat that allows you to hang onto energy from carbs
- 1 tablespoon dark chocolate – mood boosting and brain healing goodness
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup/honey – just to sweeten things up
- Pinch of sea salt – for flavor balance
- Add everything to a saucepan
- Crank the heat to medium-high
- Whisk non-stop until the mixture is smooth and warmed through