7 Types of Stress Reducing Foods Clients Learn to Love

Written by Howard Spector on November 2, 2016
7 Foods for Stress Relief

A list of stress-reducing foods helps your clients practice self-care

As Julia Child said,“People who love to eat are always the best people.” Food is an incredible thing. The way one ingredient mixes with others to suddenly create an explosion of flavors is extraordinary. With all the positives food brings to our lives – most importantly sustaining us – it can also play a damaging role to our overall physical and mental health. You want your clients to enjoy their favorite foods, but you understand that people tend to overeat, binge, or make unhealthy choices when feeling stressed or depressed. So, you’ve decided to create a list of stress-reducing foods to share with your clients. Good idea!

Before encouraging your clients to plan meals around their mental health, remind them that comfort food  is not the same as calming food. While ice cream and mashed potatoes may seem appealing at first, they won’t provide the nutritional or sustainable energy that other food will. Usually, the food people seek out when they are stressed isn’t good for them. By sharing this list of stress-reducing foods, you’re giving clients the self-care tools necessary to make smart choices in a time of heightened stress.

1. Avocado

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Your body produces a surge of hormones when you’re in a stressful situation. These hormones temporarily increase your blood pressure by causing your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow.” One superfood that helps keep blood pressure low is an avocado, as it is high in potassium. And potassium isn’t the only benefit of avocados. They also contain beta-carotene, folate, glutathione, lutein, and vitamin E.

There are many ways to enjoy an avocado. They blend well in smoothies, taste great with homemade salsa, and slice well for sandwiches.

01-7-types-of-stress-reducing-foods-clients-learn-to-love2. Bananas

Similar to the avocado, a banana is full of potassium, but that’s not its only benefit. Depending on the size, bananas are diet friendly at approximately only 100 calories each. Bananas are a filling snack that has 30% of the day’s vitamin B6, which helps the brain produce serotonin. The best thing about bananas is that they can be eaten on their own, making them an easy on-the-go snack.

3. Chocolate

According to research from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, people eat more chocolate when they’re down. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While eating too much chocolate can be troublesome, eating just the right amount of dark chocolate (it’s plenty to enjoy!) can reduce your stress level.

According to Jennifer Warner of WebMD Health News, “Researchers found that eating the equivalent of one average-sized dark chocolate candy bar (1.4 ounces) each day for two weeks reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the “fight-or-flight” hormones known as catecholamines in highly stressed people.”

Your clients probably don’t need suggestions on how to enjoy their chocolate, but remind them that the benefit comes from dark chocolate only.

02-7-types-of-stress-reducing-foods-clients-learn-to-love4. Nuts

If your clients succumb to cravings, nuts can be a great alternative to other snacks. They are an ideal combination of protein and fats, are easily portable, and meet salty cravings. According to Prevention, “Cashews are an especially good source of zinc—a 1-ounce serving has 11 percent of your RDA. Low levels of zinc have been linked to both anxiety and depression.” Similar to chocolate, nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts maintain a healthy cortisol level.

Just remind your clients to pay attention to portion control as nuts can be high in calories.

5. Oatmeal

Oatmeal precipitates the brain to produce serotonin, the level of which is reduced by stress. Another benefit of oatmeal is the soluble fiber in oatmeal, beta-glucan, has been found to satisfy people more than other grains. Even though it’s a calming meal, oatmeal feels like a comfort food. Another perk to oatmeal is that it’s easy to make, and easy to store and reheat.

To super boost the power of oatmeal, encourage your clients to add other stress-reducing foods into their oatmeal, like chocolate or nuts.

6. Quinoa

Considered an ancient grain, quinoa increases serotonin levels in the brain. Quinoa, a complex carbohydrate, also takes longer to digest than other grains, as it’s less processed or modified. Because of this, your clients are less likely to experience spikes in blood sugar, and spikes usually result in concentration issues, mood swings, cravings, and fatigue.

Quinoa easily replaces other side dishes at dinner or can be eaten at breakfast, too!

03-7-types-of-stress-reducing-foods-clients-learn-to-love7. Tea

A warm cup of tea can prove very soothing in a stress-inducing situation. L-theanine, an amino acid found mainly in tea leaves, improves focus and shows a calming effect on the overall body. Green tea is a smart choice to add L-theanine to your diet.
Similarly, A University of Pennsylvania study shows that chamomile plays a significant role in the reduction in anxiety.

While you’re busy preparing a list of stress-reducing foods for your clients, we can help you run your practice. Need to collect copayments? No problem, we have secure credit card processing. Need to send appointment reminders for this upcoming work week? We can handle that too. If you’re ready to be impressed, try us out for free for 30 days.

What foods do you suggest to your clients to help reduce stress? Share your ideas in the comments.

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About the Author

Howard is the CEO and Co-founder of SimplePractice. Howard has over 20 years of experience in the information technology industry. He is proud to have earned his MA in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute.

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