4 Healthy Techniques to Eat Away Stress

It breaks our concentration, makes us tense and robs us of a good night’s rest. Stress has become mainstream. Anxiety, the “bad” side of stress, is increasing.

Worse?  Is an increasing dependency on daily medication to treat stress related anxiety even if it is only an occasional or temporary issue…without having alternatives suggested!

So here’s a healthy alternative for people who are experiencing the negative side of stress with bouts of temporary anxiety…the kind of anxiety that comes from normal stressors of modern life.

Eat it away. Yes, you heard that right.

Here’s how.

1. Use “the Force”

Borrowed from the East, it’s all about balance. According to Eastern medicine, anxiety is a sign of the body out of balance.

One way to restore it?  Using the “force” of food.

As a relatively new concept for us Westerners, the long tradition of success for using the “force” as a natural treatment for anxiety is worth looking at.

Eastern traditions talk about Qi (pronounced chee) or life force. To keep it simple, we’ll call it the force.

The force has two main aspects. One is “Yin Qi”, the other “Yang Qi”. Yin Qi and Yang Qi need to be in balance for us to be calm and healthy.

Where Yin is quiet and calm, Yang is loud and active. These can be applied to food and anxiety too.

Anxiety is like a fire of Yang that burns up Yin. Yin gets burnt by nicotine, caffeine, and sugary foods. All of these Yin burners, taken at extremes, can throw our bodies out of balance, leading to poor health.

In short, we need Yin Qi to be in balance with Yang Qi. So to combat anxiety, which means we’re burning up too much Yin Qi, we need more Yin Qi. We can build our Yin Qi to keep anxiety at bay with certain foods.

From: Healing with Whole Foods; Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition

Lettuce, radish, cucumber, celery, asparagus, Swiss chard, eggplant, spinach, summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini.

These veggies eat away anxiety. So do certain Yin building fruits.

(To learn how to derail anxiety and fear without food, click here).

2. Focus on Yin Building Fruits

Along with Yin building veggies, certain fruits can build Yin Qi too. To combat anxiety, focus on these: apples, bananas, cantaloupe, pears, and watermelon.

Next, add some magnesium (mag) with real foods.

3. Get Some Mag

Magnesium (Mag) chills us out. It hits the brakes on the “anxiety-peptide”.

From: The Real Food Therapy Guide

Magnesium allows calcium to function properly in the tissues of the heart and nerves and restrains the “anxiety-peptide”, a complex of amino acids in the brain, which appears to contribute to anxiety.

To get some mag, add these to your diet; pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, soybeans, black beans, navy beans and sunflower seeds.

(Mag is also available as a supplement called Slo-Mag).

OK, so we’re building our Yin Qi with veggies and fruits and we’re getting some mag to cool us down.

What’s next?  Head to the West…slowly.

4. Slow Down

In the Western world, speed is attractive. Fast cars, fast money, fast food, you name it.

Anxiety, as it turns out, is a sped up nervous system.  It can lead to rushed meals and speed eating. Sometimes we eat on the run.  Fast food wins.  And when we do, the brain and body can’t keep up. We don’t feel full until it’s too late.

From:  Brian Wansink, Ph.D.

Many research studies show that it takes up to 20 minutes for our body and brain to signal satiation, so that we realize we are full. Twenty minutes is enough time to inhale two or three more pieces of pizza and chug a large refill of Pepsi. Here’s the problem. We Americans start, finish, and clear the table for many of our meals in less than 20 minutes.

Without slowing down with food, we not only overeat, but we stress the digestive system.  This can increase our risk for gastric reflux and indigestion.


Eating fast creates large boluses of food in our systems.  Big boluses travel south down the esophagus into the stomach.  If we gulp a beverage to wash it down, we create ideal conditions for indigestion and gastric reflux.

The junction of the esophagus and stomach get overloaded. Not good.

What’s the solution?

Early treatment for gastric reflux is exactly the opposite of speed eating behaviors.  Simply slow down, chew more before swallowing and separate fluids from food.

Slow eating is more “mindful”. A mindful approach may help with weight loss too.

From:  The Mindfulness-Based Eating Solution: Proven Strategies to End Overeating, Satisfy Your Hunger, and Savor Your Life

Small yet growing body of research suggests that a slower, more thoughtful way of eating could help with weight problems and maybe steer some people away from processed food and other less-healthful choices.

What’s the takeaway message?

If you’re anxious, slow down with your food. Take time to chew more, put your fork down once in a while and give your brain and body a chance to feel full.  Your digestive system with be more relaxed and so will you!

Now let’s take our time with the wrap-up.


To eat away anxiety, try these four techniques…

  1. Use the Force – Try “Yin Qi” building veggies like lettuce, radish, cucumber, celery, asparagus, Swiss chard, eggplant, spinach, summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini.
  2. Focus on Yin Building Fruits – Apples, bananas, cantaloupe, pears, and watermelon can calm us down.
  1. Get Some Mag – Magnesium foods like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and black beans can restrain the “anxiety-peptide” in the brain.
  1. Slow Down – Chew 15-20 times per mouthful and drink just enough, but not too much, to prevent digestive distress and allow the brain and body to feel full.

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About Dave Barnas, M.S., CES, NASM-CPT

Dave is the true health guy. He is the founder and owner of True Health Unlimited, LLC, a personal health and fitness company in Tolland, CT & Wellness Writers, a subscription wellness newsletter service that incorporates live & virtual wellness workshops for companies across New England. Dave earned both a Bachelor's (1998) and Master's Degree (2000) in Nutritional Science from the University of Connecticut, and also holds certifications as a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America Group Instructor, and Nutrition Specialist. He's also the lead author for four published works. Dave has over 20 years of combined experience in nutrition counseling, dietary supplement advising, personal training, corrective exercise training, health coaching and public speaking. In addition, he's spent over 25 years studying spirituality, meditation, and personal growth strategies. Dave's clients are all ages: youth, college championship level athletes, folks in their retired years, and everywhere in between. He's worked with three of the nation's leading physicians as a dietary supplement advisor and been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Yale University, UConn, St. Joseph College and various church groups, health clubs, and high schools. In 2013, he was invited to Whole Foods Market to share his Real Food Therapy Guide. And in 2015, Dave's funny "Snowga" (yoga in the snow) video caught the attention of The National Weather Channel, who aired it to shake off cabin fever and bring laughter. In 2016, Dave & Hollie (his wife) founded Wellness Writers and deliver evidence-based Wellness E-newsletters to spread a message of health and happiness to various businesses throughout the US. Dave currently serves as a personal trainer in Tolland as well as a wellness coach and writer for several businesses, gyms and wellness facilities throughout the US.

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