Nutrition under stress

Anastasia Kaliga

Anastasia Kaliga

a certified nutritionist (PN1, USDA, Harvard Medical School)

Anastasia Kaliga, @vit_anastasiya, a certified nutritionist (PN1, USDA, Harvard Medical School), explains how to eat under stress.


Currently, the level of ‘stress’ reaches a critical point. It poses risks not for the present time, but the long-term perspective. Therefore, taking care of yourself now is crucially important. 

And oddly enough, I will start with still important things, but not nutrition.

For 7-9 hours. In darkness or a sleeping mask. In silence and a cool place.


I understand that sometimes it is very hard to do this, but should you have such an opportunity, use it. 

Currently, at least minimal.

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A healthy plate

Now let’s get back to our topic. Everyone has different access to products, but I will provide you with a base that will make it easier for you to make your food basket.

I guess you have heard about the healthy eating plate. An example is added in the photo. 


To put it briefly and schematically, a half of the plate consists of vegetables and fruits (less of the latter, more of the former) and a quarter of protein and side dishes, respectively (this is meat, fish, porridge, potatoes).

This scheme makes sense because you get as much as possible from each product group at once.

What should you pay attention to and not forget to add to your diet?

Are regarded as a natural multivitamin. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants that ensure the body’s healthy response to srtess. 

Mackerel, herring, sardines, and salmon contain lots of Omega-3 fats and vitamin D.

We need them not only for brain health and mood improvement. There is evidence that their low level is associated with an increased risk of anxiety and depression.

Chickpeas, lentils, peas, and mung beans are the main protein sources, and are long-stored. Canned legumes are very easy to store, even under the worst conditions. 


For example, chickpeas are packed with vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, manganese and copper, which fight stress. It’s also rich in L-tryptophan, which your body needs to produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters.


In general, it is necessary to monitor the quantity of protein in your diet in order not to give the body a “green light” for the exacerbation of diseases.

Here we are mostly interested in sulforaphane, a sulfur compound that has neuroprotective properties and can have a sedative and antidepressant effect.

An interesting fact: carbohydrates increase the synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. But we prefer the “slow” carbohydrates contained in whole grains, durum wheat pasta, etc.

All you can reach. More colors you get – more nutrients you’ll eat. Don’t be afraid to cook them, as some vitamins’ bioavailability will only increase while cooking. Keep in mind nuts and seeds too. 

They are rich in magnesium, which is critically needed in a situation of constant nervous tension. Try to eat some greens at every meal. 


For example, parsley is especially rich in caratonoids, flavonoids and phytoncides, which have powerful antioxidant properties. These are the properties that we need in our fight against stress.

They contain flavonoids and other phenolic compounds, carotonoids, plant sterols, glucosinolates and other sulfur-containing compounds. 


For example, a number of studies show that spices and herbs such as rosemary, sage, and oregano with a high content of phenolic compounds serve as powerful antioxidants.


And, let’s be honest, the meal will be much better with them. 

It is clear that we are all different, we treat different situations differently, we do not have the same background, history, etc. But you can start taking care of yourself even with the small things.


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