Healthy Eating Tips

Feeling Burnt Out? Here Is What an RD Eats and Drinks To Feel Blissfully Restored

Photo: Stocksy/Ivan Gener
The last few years have brought on a new level of exhaustion for much of the population. With changes and challenges brought on by the pandemic and minimal time for self care, many of us have experienced phases of life in which feelings of fatigue and burnout have become more normal than not.

And while it may sound cliché, limiting stress and prioritizing self care are both crucial for one's mental and physical wellbeing. It’s no surprise that consuming nutrient-dense foods and getting adequate amounts of sleep are extremely important, but the truth is, it can be difficult to consistently practice those good habits. That’s why we tapped a nutrition expert, Kim Rose, RDN, CDCES, CNSC for a little extra assistance on how to feel refreshed and restored by the foods we eat on a daily basis. Rose's mission is to provide education and awareness to help make personalized nutrition more sustainable and easier to navigate.

So, what’s the secret to feeling continually (or, at very least, generally) energetic, focused, and calm? Rose tells us about the power of several nutritious foods, and also shines a light on the mood-boosting potential of adaptogens. Though they've been mainstays in wellness circles for centuries, these functional herbs and mushrooms have become wildly popular in the American functional medicine market in the last few years—Well+Good actually named adaptogens one of the top rising trends in wellness back in 2020—but many people still don’t know exactly what they are or where to find them. According to clinical studies, adaptogens may help to promote a positive mood, enhance mental well-being and balance, and decrease anxiety and fatigue. If you’re looking to officially kick burnout to the curb, here are Rose's six go-to beverages and foods for burnout that help restore her energy and mental health in times of stress (and hopefully, yours as well).

6 best foods for burnout a dietitian always eats to restore a sense of calm

1. Walnuts

Walnuts are perfect for snacking on or using as a topping on a salad or bowl of oats for a little crunch. In addition to being tasty, they’re also packed with protein and can even elevate your mood. Rose dives deeper into the benefits, explaining that walnuts contain an important essential amino acid by the name of tryptophan. "Tryptophan is an essential amino acid because our bodies cannot make it; it must be ingested," she says. "It's of prime importance to consume this amino acid through foods like walnuts because tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is associated with happiness and optimism. So yes, you might say eating an ounce or a small handful of walnuts on a daily basis helps to promote happiness."

2. Spinach

We may have Popeye to thank for spinach’s popularity, but its benefits go way beyond just helping us stay big and strong. “One cup of spinach contains almost 40 percent of your daily value of magnesium, plus it assists in hundreds of reactions in the body, including sleep,” says Rose. “Because magnesium is associated with better sleep quality, eating a cup of spinach each day can serve as an indirect way to boost to your quality of rest, rejuvenation, and overall health.”

3. Tofu

If you’re looking for more ways to incorporate plant-based protein into your diet, tofu is an excellent option. Not only does it contain protein, but it’s also a great source of iron. “Iron plays an important role in energy production as it boosts energy levels. If iron levels are low, your energy levels are low as well,” Rose says. She also suggests preparing a tofu scramble paired with sliced tomatoes or a glass of orange juice—you'll enhance your body's iron absorption by consuming it with vitamin C.

4. Elements Sleep with Ashwagandha

Struggling to get good quality sleep? Elements Sleep is a drink that contains ashwagandha, passion flowers, and other adaptogens that can help you feel restored for the day ahead. “Ashwagandha has been used for hundreds of years in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. I’m a big a fan of this beverage in particular because it contains clinical-levels of ashwagandha,” says Rose. She also mentions that the cherry-vanilla-almond flavor is next-level delicious.

If you're looking to feel a sense of calm (but not necessarily go to sleep), Rose recommends trying Elements Calm. “It contains 300 mg of holy basil, which is an adaptogenic plant that helps you to unwind, reflect, and provide you with feelings of relaxation.

Learn more about the benefits of adaptogenic beverages according to an herbalist by checking out this video:

5. Dark chocolate

If you’re a chocolate lover, here’s some great news: Recent research has found that eating dark chocolate containing eighty-five percent cocoa can improve your gut health and mood. "This is because dark chocolate functions as a prebiotic and feeds good bacteria in the gut, and a healthy gut microbiome is thought to elicit feelings of happiness and enjoyment,” says Rose. Guess we have to enjoy a little dark chocolate each day… for our health.

6. Fatty Cold-Water Fish

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for alleviating mood disorders, specifically depression and anxiety,” Rose tells us. Many fatty fish contain high sources of omega-3, particularly herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and anchovies. “Omega-3s work by traveling to the brain and interacting with the brain's chemicals, positively affecting your mood.” Rose loves salmon since it’s a great source of protein, and is one of the highest sources of omega-3s.

Bottom line? Experts agree: The foods we eat can make a serious impact on our mental health and mood. Try stocking up on the nutrient-rich ingredients above, then book yourself time to relax and recharge immediately. The Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi looks pretty idyllic, no?

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