Anti-inflammatory foods, probiotics, foods rich in omega-3-fatty acids, and magnesium-rich foods form the basic components of a cortisol-reducing diet plan. This 3-day diet plan is designed to nourish your body of the essential vitamins, minerals and micronutrients, heal your gut, and most importantly, elevate your mood and reduce the severity of insomnia and depression, the two conditions that often accompany high cortisol levels.
Do take a look below:
How to choose a breakfast for your cortisol-lowering diet plan
Focus on consuming anti-inflammatory foods such as alkaline fruits (ripe papaya, banana, watermelon, lemons, oranges, berries, pear and peaches). Have them solo or combine them in salads with either sub-acidic (apple, guava, grape, mango) or other alkaline fruits.
Another breakfast option is consuming probiotics and prebiotics. Such foods feed the population of good bacteria in your gut and counteract cortisol-induced inflammation. There’s solid evidence to conclude that having high-fiber foods alleviates effects of cortisol on mood as well.
Besides that, you can consider taking complex carbs early in the morning. These will not only stabilize your sugar levels but also keep you satiated for a longer time. Best sources of complex carbs are oatmeal, peas, beans, whole grain and green vegetables.
Sample recommendations for cortisol-lowering breakfast:
Day 1 breakfast: Oatmeal porridge with chia seeds and any nuts of your choice
Day 2 breakfast: Anti-inflammatory fruit salad:
Suggested combos: ripe papaya-mango
Day 3 breakfast: Sweet/savory green smoothie
Recipe for savory green smoothie: ½ cup spinach + ½ cup kale + ½ cup mint+ Greek Yogurt + rock salt+ roasted cumin
Recipe for sweet green smoothie: ½ cup spinach + ½ frozen banana + 1 cup plant-based milk + 4 pre-soaked dates (deseeded) + cinnamon spice
Make sure you check out our list of detox drinks before starting your cortisol-lowering breakfast for Day 1!
How to choose a lunch for your cortisol-lowering diet plan:
For people with high cortisol, lunch is a critical time of the day. It’s when they should eat enough to keep late afternoon sugar cravings at bay, but not too much else they will run the risk of insulin spike, which is a deathknell because high insulin levels further increase cortisol.
Therefore, it is important to fill up your plate wisely and take a balanced meal full of veggies, whole grains and a probiotic pickle to ease up digestion.
Sample recommendations for cortisol-lowering lunch:
Day 1 lunch: Quinoa grain bowl with stir-fried green veggies (choose cruciferous veggies) and garnished with toasted sesame seeds
Day 2 lunch: Asian cauliflower rice
Day 3 lunch: Whole grain wraps with tofu and steamed broccoli
Combining starches with proteins is not usually advisable as it can lead to digestive issues. Hence do not eat a complex carb with a protein source for lunch. If you want to have proteins, either lean meat or salmon, have them solo or for dinner instead.
How to choose an evening snack for your cortisol-lowering diet plan:
In the evening time, you may feel a strong urge to reach out for dopamine-inducing drinks such as coffee, or soda, and snacks rich in trans-fats and sugar. Thankfully, however, having a balanced meal for breakfast and lunch with limited coffee consumption from the morning can make it super easy for you to navigate through these cravings.
Sample recommendations for cortisol-lowering evening snack:
Day 1 evening snack:
For savory cravings: Salted peanuts and sesame seeds
For sugar cravings: toasted peanuts and sesame seeds with jaggery powder and desiccated coconut (optional)
Day 2 evening snack: Replace your go-to dessert with any seasonal fruit
Best fruits for beating sugar cavings: watermelon, mango
You can have sugarcane juice provided it’s before 4:30 pm
Day 3 evening snack: A salad rich in proteins and good fats
E.g: Fruit-and-nut salad
Recipe: 1 ripe (spotted) banana diced into chunks + 2 tablespoons of sugar-free peanut butter (unflavored) + 4 pre-soaked almonds + 4 pre-soaked raisins
Mix everything and sprinkle cinnamon & nutmeg powder on top. Enjoy!
How to choose a dinner for your cortisol-lowering diet plan:
For dinner, you should go easy on your gut. Considering, you have taken your required dose of complex carbs, green veggies and probiotics for the day, you can now focus on taking in a healthy source of fat/protein. Alternatively, you can have something lighter like a soup. Ingredients to consider for a cortisol-friendly dinner are:
- Adaptogenic (stress-defying herbs) such as ashwagandha
- Foods rich in omega-3-fatty acids such as fatty fish, e.g: salmon, mackerel, sardines
- Sources of protein, such as lean meat
- Whole grain pasta
Sample recommendations for cortisol-lowering dinner:
Day 1 dinner: Carrot-ginger soup (if you want to eat something light)
Poached eggs with smoked salmon (if you want to eat something heavy)
Day 2 dinner: Garlic-sautéed sweet potato & broccoli roast
Shakshuka (Eggs poached atop a tomato-onion base)
Day 3 dinner: Winter vegetable soup featuring carrots, green beans, peas and shredded cabbage
Green plantain chips alongside 1 cup of beans/lentil soup
Recommendations for post-dinner (bedtime) drink:
What you drink just before bedtime is likely to be absorbed and assimilated into your gut while you sleep. Since people with high cortisol suffer from stress, it’s best to drink milk for bedtime. Half-a-glass of milk boiled with a piece of ginger and turmeric is particularly recommended for nullifying cortisol-induced insomnia.
Alternatively, you can consider drinking this Ayurveda-recommended hormone-balancing milk as well.
For best results with this 3-day cortisol-reducing diet plan, consider reducing your intake of tea and coffee through the day. Note how your body feels during this diet and then you can extend it for a week after, using the same principles of choosing foods as discussed in this article.
All the best. It’s never too late to start!