How can we use our tastebuds to reduce stress and anxiety, and beat overwhelm?

What’s that?  “Cake, and loads of it!”

But is that the only way? And does cake work?

This is the latest in my blog series, all about how to reduce stress and anxiety and beat overwhelm by tuning into our senses.

Whatever you choose, remember, the rules of KISS…

Remember to Keep Things Super Simple (KISS)

  • Find small, simple ways to soothe
  • Choose ones that resonate with you
  • And do them again and again, especially when you’re feeling strong, so you’ll be able to access them easily when there’s a wobble

Reduce Stress and Anxiety Using our Sense of Taste

Here’s some of the techniques I love:

1. A Favourite Recipe

Like our sense of smell, our tastebuds can provide a fast track to a memory or emotion.

The taste of a certain recipe may remind of you of feeling loved with a grandparent, or a wonderful holiday.

It can be a lovely way to feel connected with someone, that maybe you can’t be with right now or who’s no longer alive.  By honouring their recipe, remembering them as you enjoy the process of making it, and sitting down to think of them as you eat it.

I have a fish pie recipe of my Grandma’s and I always think of her when I make – and eat – it.  It brings a smile to my face and I’m sure my stress levels drop with the comforting memories.

Chopping board and vegetables

I also have her electric whisk, still in it’s original box, which also brings me great cheer whenever I use it!

Enjoy the ritual of tea
2.  A Lovely Cuppa Tea

Ok, maybe this one’s not for everyone but my go to is a lovely cup of tea.  I’m a complete tea junkie and love it in all it forms.  Yorkshire tea with milk, Earl grey with lemon, a delicate jasmine tea, or a post-dinner ginger or mint infusion – the list goes on.

I love the ritual of tea and, for me, this is where the calm and comfort comes from.

Sure, I’ll often grab a quick brew, dunked in a mug and drunk without much thought.

But if I really need to recharge the batteries and soothe the soul, I bring out the big guns.

My pre-warmed teapot, milk jug and favourite mug.  Or my delicate Japanese tea set.  And I sit down, enjoy the time it needs to sip, and focus on the taste, the temperature, the experience.  And I feel better.

3.  Let Them Eat Cake

I’m a strong believer in avoiding the demonisation of food and the good versus bad mentality.  So many “healthy” people I see are actually people with eating disorders and control issues that make their life a ball of stress.

Of course, a nutritious balanced diet is a great foundation for our holistic health. And sometimes, that can include cake.

And yes, cake can be a soother.  But again, I think it’s all about the how and when.

The benefits don’t come from numbing and obliterating the stress (temporarily) – as self-medicating with sugar can.  And by the way, as with all the self medications like food, alcohol, recreational drugs, it weakens your resilience to ongoing stress and sets up a vicious circle.

Let them eat cake

Instead the benefits come from savouring the pleasure, of giving yourself some time out, of saying “I’ve got this, I’ve deserve this, I’m OK, I’m doing ok”.

Variety of fruit and veg
4.  Stress-Busting Foods

For all I’m avoiding the good vs bad food labelling, there are some wonderful foods out there PROVEN to help with stress, mood and anxiety.  Here’s just a few of them:

  • Spinach and Swiss chard are a great source of magnesium, which can help you feel calmer. They’re rich in folate which helps your body produce mood regulating neurotransmitters.

  • Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc which can lower anxiety levels, and are a source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is converted by the body to serotonin (the “feel good” chemical).

  • Berries provide vitamin C and antioxidants, which the body craves to help protect it from stress.

  • Avocado contains tryptophan, folate, omega-3 fatty acids and is packed with B vitamins, again linked with stress reduction.

  • Chia & hemp seeds contain Omega-3s fatty acids which may help mitigate anxiety symptoms.

  • Oats contain B vitamins, magnesium and fibre, all extremely important for reducing anxiety.

  • Turmeric has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help lower anxiety.

  • Brazil buts are a great source of selenium, which seems to regulate mood by reducing inflammation.

  • Dark chocolate is enriched with phenylalamine, a neuromodulator that helps with mood regulation.

  • Chickpeas contain tryptophan and slow-burning carbohydrates, both excellent for lowering stress levels.

With thanks for Sarah Otto, Goodness Lover.

What are your soothing tastes? 

Next post will be all about how to be use our sense of touch to keep calm…

You can read the previous blogs of this series at:

Soothing Stress & Anxiety with The Five Senses – Sight
Stay Calm and Stress Free with The Five Senses – Hearing
Using our Sense of Smell to Stay Calm