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5 Stress Fighting Foods Everyone Should Have in Their Pantry

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  • Written By: Michelle Civello, APRN, FNP-BC
5 Stress Fighting Foods Everyone Should Have in Their Pantry

HELLO from Civello

Hello from Civello bitmoji

Hey all,

I am back this month to talk about how nutrition can affect stress and, conversely, how stress affects what we reach for in the pantry. I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of stress eating, and my favorite items to reach for are salty! But, good nutrition is essential in keeping stress and its negative side effects at bay.

First, let’s talk about how stress can affect our food choices.

Ever wonder why you reach for junk food when you feel stressed out? When stress strikes, your body cranks out the hormones cortisol, insulin and ghrelin, which can rev up hunger and cravings for quick sources of energy, like sweet, sugary, salty or fatty foods.

A couple of cookies couldn’t hurt, right?

Quick fix stress eating only worsens the body’s stress response. Refined carbohydrates can cause our blood sugar to spike. When it crashes, it can set into motion a hormonal rollercoaster that could cause even more stress and anxiety. When stress levels are elevated, it could:

  • Raise blood pressure
  • Affect sleep
  • Increase inflammation
  • Increase weight gain
  • Cause brain fog.

Prolonged stress also can set us up for chronic conditions like hypertension, type 2 diabetes, depression and GI upset.

Stress eating the healthy way

Fortunately, knowing which foods to fill up on can help you get your stress levels under control and reduce your risk for all of the conditions listed above. Here are some foods I like to include in my daily diet and why:

  • Avocados – The healthy fat and fiber in avocados make them the perfect stress-fighting snack. They keep you full and come loaded with vitamins C and B6, which help reduce stress, and potassium, which lowers blood pressure.
  • Nuts – My personal favorite are walnuts, but all nuts offer health benefits that can reduce stress. They also are packed with good fats, potassium and B6.
  • Dark Chocolate - This little indulgence also is a great source of antioxidants, which are known for their stress fighting benefits.
  • Blueberries, strawberries and citrus fruits – These sweet treats from Mother Nature all have one thing in common – their high vitamin C content!
  • Leafy greens – Spinach and kale always make their way to my mealtime routine! They are rich in magnesium, which can help regulate cortisol and blood pressure. Leafy greens also contain folate, which increases the production of the feel-good hormone dopamine.

Some other great staples to have in your pantry are olive oil, whole grains, oats, seeds, decaf tea (green, black or chamomile), bananas and sweet potatoes.

Making groceries (and time for all of the other good stuff)!

Having healthy options on hand sets you up for success when combating stress and its side effects. Plan for success and include some of these items on your next grocery run.

Don’t forget that nutrition is just one part of managing stress and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Be sure to get lots of rest, exercise, hydrate and take time each day to incorporate deep breathing or meditation exercises. It all works together for a healthier, happier, less-stressed you!

Check out one of my favorite (and easy) salad recipes that incorporates some of these yummy ingredients.

"Goodbye Winter" Salad



Shredded parmesan cheese

Crispy prosciutto (I put mine in the air fryer for 5 minutes)


3 cloves of garlic crushed

3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

Mix, Shake, Pour & Enjoy!

Arugula, Fennel, Prosciutto, Garlic, Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Salt and Pepper

Hello from Civello is a monthly wellness blog written by Michelle Civello, APRN, FNP-BC. Michelle is a family nurse practitioner with Northshore Internal Medicine Associates in Hammond, where she treats patients 4 years and older. In her practice, Michelle believes that open dialogue and individualized care are the best ways to motivate her patients and improve their health outcomes.

A veteran of the Louisiana Air National Guard, Michelle enjoys spending time with family and friends, taking care of her many four-legged friends, gardening, yoga, staying active and traveling. Get to know Michelle at