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How to Fight Stress Anxiety and Depression With These 9 Foods

Updated on November 5, 2014
MarleneB profile image

Marlene spends numerous hours researching solutions to common and sometimes obscure health and beauty issues. She shares her results here.

This is a stress-o-meter found at fairs. Used as a fun gadget for measuring your stress level.
This is a stress-o-meter found at fairs. Used as a fun gadget for measuring your stress level. | Source

Food is Fuel for Your Body

Food is like fuel for your body, and what we put into our body affects how our body performs. If we don't have healthy bodies, we are likely to become run down and unable to fight common afflictions such as stress, anxiety, and depression.

I can attest to how important a healthy body is in fighting off stress and anxiety. You see, when I was a young married woman with two children, I had a tendency to stretch myself thin - burning the candle at both ends, so to speak. At the same time as I was a wife and mother, I attended the university full time to obtain my bachelors degree. I also worked part-time to help with household expenses. Plus, I managed the household – cooking, cleaning, handling the bills, and so on. Life was stressful for me during that time. There were days when I felt as if I would not be able to get to the end of the day alive. I felt an extreme amount of anxiety. I felt as if there were not enough hours in the day to get everything done. My health began to fade and I feared that I was slipping into depression as I struggled to manage all the day-to-day demands I placed upon myself day in and day out.

I was fortunate to have a neighbor who noticed that I was dwindling. She was one of those kind neighbors who would help out when she could but she had two children of her own, so there wasn’t a whole lot she could do on a regular basis. But, she was a fitness instructor and she shared some valuable information with me. I honestly believe eating these foods helped to bring my emotional well-being back to normal.

“Use food for fuel.” That’s what my neighbor would say as she explained about various foods and their importance. When I ate the foods she suggested, I felt my body become energized and the most important change was my mental attitude. My anxiety level began to decrease. All-in-all, it took about a week before I noticed that I was feeling less stressed. I felt as if I was handed more hours in the day and that feeling of being overwhelmed and depressed was completely gone.

Your body may be different than mine, so, I offer no guarantees. Some of the following stress-relieving foods might work, while others may have no effect at all. I suggest that if you are not allergic to the foods listed here, then at least give it a try and if it works, then incorporate them into your daily diet.

Alleviate your stress, anxiety, and help fight depression with these foods:

Coffee has caffeine and helps you feel more motivated and less stressed.
Coffee has caffeine and helps you feel more motivated and less stressed. | Source

1. Coffee. Coffee is a beverage that many people start their day with. And, while coffee does have caffeine, which is a stimulant, when drank in moderation, coffee helps stimulate the brain into working with more energy and efficiency. This helps you feel more motivated and less stressed.

Coffee also contains antioxidants which help keep your immune system healthy. And, when you feel healthy, you feel better and are more capable of combating stress, anxiety, and depression.

Oatmeal helps increase serotonin which helps control stress and anxiety.
Oatmeal helps increase serotonin which helps control stress and anxiety. | Source

2. Oatmeal. Oatmeal helps increase serotonin levels in your brain. Serotonin is a chemical that affects your mood, appetite, sleep, and muscle function, among many other important bodily functions. Oatmeal is a carbohydrate, and your brain needs carbohydrates in order to function normally. If you don’t like oatmeal, other carbohydrates such as wheat bread, potatoes, and rice will be beneficial, as well.

Green leafy vegetables help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
Green leafy vegetables help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. | Source

3. Green Leafy Vegetables. Leafy greens contain a lot of magnesium. Magnesium is an important mineral that has the power to relax muscles. Lettuce, kale, and cabbage are excellent green leafy vegetables, but my all-time favorite is spinach. Spinach is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids. Their role in the body is to reduce your stress and help with many other conditions, including depression.

Fish Oil contains omega 3 fatty acids good in helping increase your serotonin levels.
Fish Oil contains omega 3 fatty acids good in helping increase your serotonin levels. | Source

4. Fish Oil. Fish oil contains essential fatty acids known as omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help increase the serotonin levels in your brain. Serotonin helps your brain cope with stress, making you mentally feel good. Salmon is a good choice of fish to obtain omega 3 fatty acids. Try to eat salmon at least once a week if not more times a week.

Lean meats are packed with protein to help alleviate stress.
Lean meats are packed with protein to help alleviate stress. | Source
Milk has a lot of protein and is considered a perfect food.
Milk has a lot of protein and is considered a perfect food. | Source

5. Lean Meats. Speaking of protein, lean meats are your number one source for protein. Protein, as you know can help you alleviate stress. Other excellent sources of protein are turkey, eggs, chicken and fish. All of these foods contain the amino acids needed for healthy brain function. It is important to note that you should avoid eating fat because fat keeps amino acids from being properly digested.


6. Milk. Milk is filled with proteins and calcium. Milk is considered the perfect food because the nutrients found in mild are absolutely necessary for the production of the human body. The good news about milk is that protein helps reduce anxiety and calcium helps relax the muscles. Milk also contains a chemical called tryptophan which helps you calm down and relax. A glass of milk at the end of the day can help you fall asleep faster and obtain a better night’s rest.

The benefits of milk can be achieved through other sources such as cheese, butter and curd.

Chocolate helps increase serotonin to help you feel good.
Chocolate helps increase serotonin to help you feel good. | Source

7. Chocolate. Chocolate contains caffeine. Caffeine helps increase serotonin. Serotonin helps you feel good. Eating a small piece of dark chocolate each day can help alleviate stress. Plus, chocolate is packed with antioxidants, which help build your immune system, providing all around better health for you

Red wine in moderation can help you relax.
Red wine in moderation can help you relax. | Source

8. Red Wine. Yes! Health experts state that consuming a glass of red wine each day can help temporarily lower your blood pressure, which can help you relax. It is important to drink in moderation. Only one glass – two at the most each night is enough. More than that can be less beneficial.

See: The Health Benefits of Drinking Wine by catmalone (HubPages)

Nuts contain the vitamin B complex which help you fight fatigue.
Nuts contain the vitamin B complex which help you fight fatigue. | Source

9. Nuts. Nuts contain the vitamin B complex, which helps maintain your blood sugar level, in turn, helping you fight fatigue. Fatigue is sometimes responsible in lowering your ability to fight stress, anxiety, and depression. A handful of nuts each day can be extremely beneficial to you. One thing I do is pack a bag of mixed nuts and carry the bag of nuts with me in my purse. Throughout the day, I eat a small amount of nuts so that by the end of the day, I will have consumed my handful of nuts for that day.

Caution:

The author is not a medical professional. Prior to embarking on any eating program, which may be different from what you normally eat, please refer to your personal medical advisor.

Vitamins and Supplements

It is best to get the nutrients your body needs through eating the right foods. But if you are not able to do that, consider taking vitamins and supplements to get the benefits of healthy foods. Perhaps, you may not be able to tolerate certain foods that you know are good for you, or it may not be likely that you will eat a certain food every day. For instance, most people are not likely to eat salmon every day, so taking a fish oil supplement is a good alternative.

Eat to become healthier

The key to fighting stress, anxiety, and depression is maintaining a healthy body. Eating the foods on the above list will start you on the path to becoming healthy. A healthy body helps you feel stress-free, a little less anxious, and able to fight depression with a stronger body and stronger state of mind.

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    • MarleneB profile image
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      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Hello alocsin. Mmmmmm! A hot fudge sundae sounds so nice. Now, after analyzing the hot fudge sundae, I can see why I always feel so relaxed and satisfied once I'm done. The hot fudge sundae has the foods found to relieve stress. No more guilt.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I can see how the vitamins in these foods can affect the body in positive ways. But when I want to fight anxiety and depression, I eat chocolates, cheesecake or a hot fudge sundae ;) Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • MarleneB profile image
      Author

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Hello rajan jolly! Me too! Except for the salmon (which I only eat once in a blue moon), I do consume the foods on the list. I think it makes a difference in my overall health, including lowering my stress level.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Certainly a fine list of healthy foods. Making these a regular part of our diet will make for a healthy mind and body. I eat most of these on a regular basis.Voted up and useful.

    • MarleneB profile image
      Author

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Hello healthylife2. As you know, natural is the way to go. I was also glad to see chocolate and my other favorite - coffee on the list.

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Great article providing natural ways to deal with stress and anxiety! I'm glad chocolate was on the list!

    • MarleneB profile image
      Author

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Hi dwachira. Thank you for your comments. Yes, I know what you mean by the economic problems in today's world. I include myself when I say a lot of people are afflicted with stress and depression. If I can find natural ways to relieve stress, that is the way for me.

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      In today world, economic problems bring a lot of distress and depression, i didn't know nuts are very handy when it come to depression relief, but i like nuts a lot. Voted up, useful and shared.

    • MarleneB profile image
      Author

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Trish_M, yes I do enjoy it. But, I'm one of those curious types. You've piqued my interest, and I'm glad for that. It's a bit of trivia that would be nice to know.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 4 years ago from The English Midlands

      As long as you enjoy it and it doesn't sprevent you relaxing, that's all that matters :)

    • MarleneB profile image
      Author

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Ah! Trish_M, so you see I'm not a coffee connoisseur. I learn something new every day. So... I went and grabbed the bag of coffee beans to see what kind of coffee beans mine were and nowhere on the bag does it state what kind of coffee it is - just "Rwandan Whole Bean Coffee". Now, you've got me wondering more about this coffee.

      Ignorance is bliss. I was blissfully enjoying my rich flavored coffee, then you came along and provided information I should probably know about the coffee I was drinking. So, now I'm on a crusade to find out exactly what kind of coffee this is... thanks a lot Trish_M! :)

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 4 years ago from The English Midlands

      It may be that your coffee is Arabica. The other type is robusta.

    • MarleneB profile image
      Author

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Thank you Trish_M. I'm not familiar with the different kinds of coffee. I just started drinking Rwandan coffee and so far, so good. I don't get jittery and I can actually have a cup of coffee at night - after dinner - and still sleep all night with no trouble. I guess it really does make a difference what kind of coffee we drink. I'll try the Arabica, too. I buy my coffee from Costco, so it will be a while. :)

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 4 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi :)

      I so agree with you about the benefits of eating a healthy diet. It's not always easy to stick to, but the addition of chocolate can help!!! :)

      Regarding coffee, it gives me panic attacks, but I am not affected so badly, if I stick to Arabica coffee, so it may be the same for others.

      Re milk; I understand that this is much healthier if one goes for organic milk.

      This is a very useful article!

    • MarleneB profile image
      Author

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Hello oceansider, thank you so much for the compliment. I use to eat a lot of fruit, but I have transitioned into eating more vegetables than fruit. Although it wasn't mentioned in the hub, one of the reasons for eating more veggies is because they tend to be more alkaline based than fruit. I'm working toward keeping my body in a more alkaline state and most fruit is acid based so I eat less of it, even though I enjoy fruit more than vegetables.

      Also, thank you for the recommendation of almond butter. I had heard of it before, but didn't know anyone who could say much about it. Since you have tried it and like it, I'll give it a try.

      Stay healthy, my friend.

      Many blessings to you.

    • profile image

      oceansider 4 years ago

      Hi Marlene,

      How are you doing? You have written another extremely well done article!....You know, I eat most of the foods you mentioned here. I too love my spinach, green veggies, milk and chocolate, and every morning, I eat oatmeal. ......I don't care much for fish, so maybe I should take an omega 3 capsule daily....I'll look into that. .....One other thing I eat every day is plenty of fruit....it's delicious and so healthy, and I eat nuts almost every day as well, or instead sometimes eat almond butter on bread, which is extremely healthy too.....Great article! Thank you & keep up the excellent work.

      God bless you,

      Helen

    • MarleneB profile image
      Author

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Ha! sammimills, I'm more of a coffee, chocolate, and wine person myself! But, it is good to know that the others work, as well. When I'm selecting foods, I try to eat more of the foods that will get my serotonin levels up. I think that's the key.

    • sammimills profile image

      sammimills 4 years ago from California, USA

      Thank you for the advice! Now I know what to eat or drink when I am stressed. Most probably I would choose chocolates, milk and coffee. :D Voted up!

    • MarleneB profile image
      Author

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      anxietygoaway, I am so glad you read my hub. And, thank you very much for your positive comment.

    • MarleneB profile image
      Author

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Hi catmalone, thank you for your positive feedback. I am glad you enjoyed the information.

    • anxietygoaway profile image

      anxietygoaway 4 years ago

      Fantastic hub and super true

    • catmalone profile image

      catmalone 4 years ago

      Very Awesome hub! Very informative and well put together. I love reading about health and nutrition especially when it catches your attention like your hub did.

    • MarleneB profile image
      Author

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Yes Nora411. Coffee... and chocolate... in moderation, of course. Nevertheless, they made the list; so that's all that matters, right? :)

    • Nora411 profile image

      Nora411 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Im so happy coffee is on this list! :)Voted up!

    • MarleneB profile image
      Author

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Hi VibrantViews , I didn't know coffee was one of those cure-all foods. I guess it could be about the antioxidant factor. Same thing with chocolate - the antioxidants are the beneficial factor. Thank you for commenting.

    • MarleneB profile image
      Author

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Hi creative1975, to this day - 32 years later, I still eat the foods on the list. Knowing what each does for the body makes a big difference.

    • MarleneB profile image
      Author

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Hi NetBlots. Yes, pretty much, eat right. But, specifically the things on the list. I, for one, never saw coffee, red wine, or chocolate on the healthy food pyramid.

    • MarleneB profile image
      Author

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Hi michememe, thank you for your comment. No doctor ever told me, either. They would rather prescribe pills or say that I'm doing too much. They would be right in saying I was doing too much, because I really did need to slow down a little in my younger years. But the truth is that I didn't slow down and by eating and drinking the foods on the list, I was able to accomplish more at the end of the day.

    • creative1975 profile image

      creative1975 4 years ago from Christchurch, NZ

      Great Hub and I'm so glad that I do eat and drink just about everything on your list! It's just certain other foods I need to cut out. I vote up and useful for this hub Marlene. Keep up the good work.

    • NetBlots profile image

      NetBlots 4 years ago from Melbourne

      So the thread pretty much almost translates to "eat right" and you'll feel it.

      Eating fresh healthy food is the best thing to do, just make sure it's not processed like most milks are.

      Also - after 3 months of eating well, try introducing Spirulina into the diet instead of coffee, that'll stimulate you.

    • michememe profile image

      Miche Wro 4 years ago

      Wow! Marlene great advice, I suffer with anxiety and not one doctor suggested these foods or beverages. Things like this are good to know, I appreciate the hub. Voted Up, and this is a MUST share.

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