Smooth(ie) Away Stress with Greens

Spring is my favorite time of year. Aside from celebrating my birthday in April, I watch in awe how beautifully our natural environment changes as buds and flowers begin to bloom. Living in Washington, DC has an added benefit of cherry blossoms decorating local suburban streets as well as the monuments downtown.

As a home gardener, we have an overabundance of dark leafy greens in our vegetable beds this time of year. Springtime is such a stark opposite to the winter months when not too much grows in our yard. These days, we head outside almost daily to pick vegetables for a salad or to enjoy in a smoothie.

This time of year can also be stressful, especially in the Jewish community. Balancing large Passover meals, guests, children off from school, travel and work can be a challenge even for the most organized among us. April is National Stress Awareness Month, and it couldn’t come at a more appropriate time.

When the going gets tough, many of us head to the pantry. Busy holiday times hit us hard in areas that trigger mindless, stress-related eating. Late nights preparing and then enjoying the holiday can set our bodies off balance.

As a teacher of mindful eating, I encourage my students to identify their biggest triggers for stress-related eating. I know that mine is always tiredness, but for other people it may be boredom, sadness or procrastination.

I like to leave myself reminder notes in strategic places, such as my planner or on the refrigerator door, that simply say “Tired.” This allows me to pause and remember that I am having an off day before I mindlessly head to the refrigerator or pantry.

Our busy modern lives are full of day-to-day stresses. National Stress Awareness Month is a great time to take note of those stresses and also to work on coping tactics. Keeping a journal this month of your stress-related eating cues can help you re-direct when you notice them in the future.

Another important part of this month is identifying things that can help to lower your stress level. Enter overabundance of available dark leafy greens. There is no other food that every doctor, dietitian and chef can all agree on to improve your overall health, not to mention your stress.

Increasing your intake of greens can be easy if you include them in a smoothie. My favorites in smoothies are bok choy and swiss chard because of their mild flavor, but you can experiment with the wide variety available this time of year. Sip with breakfast or as an after-school snack your whole family can prepare and enjoy together.

Reprinted from the Jewish Food Experience Newsletter