Mindful Eating Part 1 – Food That Can Help Manage Stress and Anxiety

The world is changing as we know it. Collectively we are experiencing the impact of this pandemic. There has been disruption in some individuals’ work, school, and daily routine forcing us to create a new sense of normal, with very little certainty. But one thing we all have control over is how we choose to respond to these types of situations. Balancing our emotions and keeping our bodies healthy are crucial components in managing overall stress and anxiety.


Creating habits that you incorporate into your daily routine are important. We are all told that getting outside, sleeping regular hours (maybe even more if you have the time), eating balanced meals, and limiting your sugar, caffeine and alcohol consumption will help. But what about the other habits that might not be as ‘obvious’; like staying connected with your community (even though it might be on a different platform), or if you are working from home allowing for a transition from ‘work’ to after work hours so you can remain present with your partner, kids or self. And finally, be mindful of the foods you choose because keeping your meals balanced will go a long way towards minimizing stress.  During stressful times food can be used to soothe or mask emotions and sometimes the foods we pick for this coping mechanism aren’t always the healthiest.

Photo provided by Erin Butler

Tips on various foods that can help manage stress and anxiety

Magnesium is an essential mineral for bones and muscles but is also said to improve sleep efficiency. It has been shown to combat stress and is said to be the “great relaxer mineral.” Foods that are rich in Magnesium are:


  • Spinach 
  • Lima Beans 
  • Tuna 
  • Brown Rice 
  • Almonds 
  • Dark Chocolate 
  • Bananas
  • Avocado

Vitamin B is another nutrient that is important for reducing anxiety levels. Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) plays a role in the production of adrenal hormones and is known as the “anti-stress” vitamin. When taken at adequate amounts, it helps down-regulate the secretion of cortisol which is the hormone produced during times of “fight or flight.”

Don't get enough magnesium on your plate?

B12 can help reduce stress by promoting healthy nervous system function and when the nervous system is functioning properly, the adrenal glands do not secrete as much cortisol, which as mentioned above, is a stress hormone that can hinder recovery. Vitamin B9 (also known as folate or folic acid) balances out depressive moods. So taking a B vitamin complex would be a wonderful addition to your regiment or incorporate some of these foods:




  • Clams 
  • Liver 
  • Beef 
  • Fortified Tofu 
  • Eggs 
  • Salmon 
  • Yogurt
  • Bananas

The last nutrient I’d recommend are foods rich in Omega- 3’s. Omega-3 fatty acids support a healthy inflammatory response. Although inflammation is a natural immune response that helps heal the body, it can be harmful and lead to a wide range of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases so it is important to manage the level of inflammation we hold in our bodies. Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are:

  • Flaxseed 
  • Chia Seeds 
  • Salmon 
  • Walnut 
  • Tofu 
  • Oysters 
  • Avocados
  • Spinach
Photo provided by Erin Butler

We are collectively doing our best in the little ways we know, so take what you do know and let that serve you in your overall health. Choose foods that will help aid you through the new stresses of our world today. It is one thing we have control over, so try and enjoy it by sending recipes to friends, cooking together over zoom or facetime, and remember to still enjoy the foods that make you feel good, even if it is indulging in a cookie here and there because those too can soothe every once in a while.

Erin Butler

Erin Butler

Erin Butler is a proud lifelong resident of Utah. Her engagement with the diverse, exercise and outdoor sports communities in Salt Lake City has become a defining aspect for her life. Erin is a Certified Nutrition Therapist, certified NCI level 1, a personal trainer, and is currently getting her diploma in sports specific nutrition. Nutrition and exercise are ever-evolving and Erin’s ear is always to the ground. Bio-individuality and personalized training programs drive her custom services with the understanding that there’s no one size fits all program. Erin loves the work she does that fine-tunes the balance between both body and mind. Find her at http://be-nutrition.com and on IG @erin.m.butler

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