One of the best ways you can support your body’s stress management efforts is by grabbing your knife and fork. That’s right – food plays a significant role in helping your body manage stress.

Stress is stalking you.

Why wouldn’t it be?

The experience of a breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and follow-up is pretty much all about stress.

And anxiety. And fear.

But I don’t need to school you on that unruly, uninvited, unwelcome gang of emotions lying in wait to take you down and render you unfit to function.

You’re living it.

Hello! I’m Stress and I’m Happy to Meet You

Even if you’ve stress-proofed your mind, stress weasels its way in, crashing like a wrecking ball into your sleeping patterns and awake-time productivity.

In addition to typical daily stressors like traffic-stress, late-for-work stress or I-forgot-our-anniversary-now-you’re-really-mad-at-me stress, we breast cancer folks contend with the collateral damage-driven stress (physical AND psychological) of our diagnosis.

Treatment and/or medication side effects, follow-up scans and doctor appointments, unexplained physical pain or the experience of living with metastatic breast cancer fan the flames of low-grade stress that flies just beneath the radar.

It’s that unrelenting chronic stress that gets us into trouble, crippling our body’s immune system and regenerative ability at the cellular and hormonal level. (1, 2)

Your Body To The Rescue

But here’s the great news.

Whether facing an ongoing or unexpected stress load, your body is equipped with an amazing ability to draw on its life-preserving power to keep you safe.

Behaving in a fairly coordinated manner, you body activates its “stress response,” a series of reactions involving hormones, behavioral changes and alterations in the functioning of your autonomic system (the mechanism that allows body processes like breathing and heart rate to happen without conscious effort from you.)

That said, your body won’t ever turn away any extra help you’d like to give it.

Eat Your Way to Stress Management

One of the best ways you can support your body’s stress management efforts is by grabbing your knife and fork. That’s right – food plays a significant role in helping your body manage stress.

How delicious is THAT?

Here’s the thing, though. The TYPE of foods you choose really does matter.

A steady diet of junk food won’t cut the mustard (however, mustard greens ARE a terrific food to include.) (4)

A stress-fighting diet confers powerful stress reducing benefits AT THE CELLULAR LEVEL to improve brain functioning, prop up your immune system, lower blood pressure, promote optimal circulation, reduce free radicals and other toxins, and minimize cortisol and adrenaline levels, the stress chemicals that trigger our fight or flight response.

Yes, food can do all of that.

Now, more than ever, a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods is essential in reducing recurrence risk, increasing energy, and gifting your body with necessary vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that boost your immune and recovery systems.

Mix and Match From These 29 Foods Each Day to Ensure The Best Variety of Nutrients  

  • Vitamin C fruits and veggies
    • Green and red peppers, potatoes, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwi, cauliflower, cabbage, onions
  • Vitamin E foods
    • Dry roasted sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, safflower oil, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables
  • Polyphenolic foods
    • Chocolate, tea, coffee
  • Complex carbohydrate foods
    • Barley, rye, oats, whole wheat
  • Omega 3 foods
    • Walnuts, ground flax seeds, fatty fish, chia seeds, canola oil

BY THE WAY! – When you’re trying to make breast cancer diet or nutrition changes on your own and feel confused, overwhelmed or frustrated, I recommend using information created by an experienced professional. To learn breast cancer nutrition basics through a program created by me, CLICK HERE. If you feel working with an oncology dietitian would be a better fit for you, CLICK HERE to access a directory of practitioners.

Get my FREE nutrition and fitness JUMPSTART worksheet here.


  1. Enhancing versus Suppressive Effects of Stress on Immune Function: Implications for Immunoprotection and Immunopathology
  2. The Impact of Psychological Stress on Wound Healing: Methods and Mechanisms
  3. Understanding the stress response
  4. Design, synthesis and antitumor evaluation of phenyl N-mustard-quinazoline conjugates.