By Alexandria Campbell, Atlanta Eats intern
Our favorite (and not to mention one of the most fun) way(s) to take care of ourselves is to eat. And that doesn’t just mean physically – we turn to food when we need a mental pick me up. Maybe you’ve found yourself stressed out at work, or anxious about the upcoming holiday season.
First, take a deep breath. You’re not in this alone.
Then, take a look at this (very abbreviated) list of foods that can be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety as well as our favorite places to get our fix.
1. Green Leafy Vegetables
You had to see this one coming. Fruits and vegetables always get the reputation of being good for you, but leafy greens like kale or spinach, contain dopamine – a pleasure inducing chemical in the brain that causes us to remain calm. Several studies have also shown that adults who eat leafy vegetables are at a lower risk of depression as they get older.
Local Option: Gusto’s Mixed Green bowl
Known for its omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is good for the heart and weight loss, but can also help reduce the effects of stress due to its anti-inflammatory qualities. It’s loaded with protein and can be prepared so many ways, it’s sure to lift your spirits as it fills your belly.
Local Option: True Food Kitchen’s Grilled Salmon
In case you needed an excuse to eat pie or scones or muffins! These berries are small and mighty, packing tons of antioxidants and nutrients that improve your body’s response to stress and fight stress-related free radicals.
Local Option: OK Cafe’s Blueberry Griddle Cakes
4. Dark Chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
In moderation, dark chocolate can reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. Dark Chocolate also releases antioxidants that cause blood vessels to relax which lowers blood pressure and increases circulation. Good news for choco-holics!
Local Option: Upbeet’s Cacao Superfood Smoothie
Eat them by themselves or throw them in anything from yogurt, to salad, to pasta, seeds like sunflower, flax, or pumpkin contain Magnesium which helps to alleviate depression, fatigue, and irritability.
Local Option: Salad Works: El Toro (pumpkin seeds)