The world today can often feel like a confusing, stressful mess. From information overload to global pandemics and widespread panic, it might seem like everything is coming at you all at once and there is nowhere you can hide from the confusion.
If you’re a highly sensitive person (also known as HSP), these circumstances are particularly upsetting for you. The events and demands that are already taxing for most people in today’s world can completely drain you of energy.
You might feel low on energy all the time, cry several times a day, or start dissociating— that spacey sensation that you or your experiences aren’t real.
The stress and confusion caused by external events is something you likely can’t control. What you can do is manage their impact on your life.
Despite not being able to choose what happens all around you, you have full power over how you take care of yourself. If you actively work to nourish your body, mind, and soul, you’ll be able to support yourself and create a buffer that protects you from crashing in the face of stress.
One of the best tools we have to create a healthy inner support system and balance our adrenal glands is food. What you put in your body has a major impact on how you feel. This is important at the best of times— right now, it’s crucial.
But let’s start at the beginning— are you a sensitive person?
The checklist of Highly Sensitive traits.
If you’ve never heard about the research on Highly Sensitive People, there’s a lot to explore.
The first thing to know is that being a Highly Sensitive Person is a normal trait, determined by your genes, and not at all a condition or something to “fix”. From 15% to 20% of the population are estimated to be HSP and, in terms of evolution, this trait could be a natural advantage.
Do you see yourself reflected in these HSP traits?
- You perceive subtleties easily, often noticing what no one else does.
- You’re deeply affected by stimulation to your senses, and intense triggers (like loud music, crowds, uncomfortable clothing, or strong smells) can leave you feeling exhausted. This has two causes: you perceive more and you process what you perceive more deeply— your brain creates a loop.
- You need a lot of downtime to be by yourself and process far from the crowd, probably more than the people you know. Your inner life is very complex.
- Art and sensations affect your emotions acutely. You can’t tolerate violence and conflict— not even in films or TV.
- Your brain’s mechanism involves mirror neurons that make you more likely to feel deep empathy. Because of this, you feel other people’s emotions intensely too.
- You often feel exhausted— all that sensorial overstimulation and interactions with other people drain you and can cause adrenal fatigue. That means your kidney hormonal glands can’t cope with the chronic stress received and leave you feeling low in both body and mind.
Why food matters— Balanced and imbalanced ingredients.
As a Highly Sensitive Person, you should be careful of what you let into your body. Everything you eat and drink affects you more than it does non-HSPs. You likely have a food allergy (or more), or even an intolerance to dairy, gluten, or other products.
Besides avoiding possible food reactions that can throw you off-kilter, you should be using food as a tool to regain balance and heal your tired, stressed-out adrenals.
By choosing the right ingredients and eating them in a regular, calming way, you can do a lot for your mental and physical health.
You’ll reduce stress levels and create more positive (happy!) hormones, give your body the nutrients it needs to rebuild worn-out structures and help your adrenals function normally. Tat will lead to feeling more energised and better able to cope with the world and its troubles.
The best balancing foods for Highly Sensitive People.
In this section, we’ll focus on the ingredients and meals you can use to create grounded balance in your body.
1. Go vegetarian or vegan.
This is the biggest positive change you can make for your body and mind. Remember how we talked about HSPs being highly empathetic? This ability to recognise and take in energy makes it impossible for you to eat foods that, like meat, are violent or unethical.
When a sensitive person consumes food produced with negative energies, that can cause deep imbalances and dissonance in your inner life as well as ongoing stress on your digestive system.
Going vegetarian or vegan might seem difficult at first, but nowadays you have a lot of online resources that can help you transition and thrive in a lifestyle that’s healthier for you.
Vegetables and fruit are surprisingly nutrient-rich foods. Leafy greens like spinach and the infamous kale are great for vitamin K (bone strength and blood health), folate (crucial for transforming food into energy), and Vitamin C and A (immune system and reproduction of good cells).
Just check out nutritional profiles for seemingly run-of-the-mill veggies— you might be amazed!
2. Fermented foods.
Fermented foods are those that have developed good bacteria that support the gut’s function, called probiotics.
Why you should eat them— your chronic stress levels from deep processing and sensitivity affect your gut. Stress makes your digestion sluggish and causes bloating and poor absorption of nutrients. This, in turn, can worsen your low energy levels.
Fermented foods like Sauerkraut (cabbage fermented with lactic acid bacteria, tastes tangy and sour) and Kimchi (a traditional Korean dish made from different fermented veggies).
You can make these (and lots of other fermented foods like kombucha and probiotic yogurt) at home to reduce waste or simply get them at the store.
Warning: Some HSP can be mildly reactive to fermented food (ie, you could get some bloating). The solution: do your research on whether these foods are safe for you and try with small amounts. Learn to trust your body.
3. Plant-based protein.
Proteins are the building blocks of all cells in the body, so eating them is crucial to your overall health.
But when you’re a highly sensitive person that’s prone to adrenal fatigue, they’re even more important. They give you lots of energy without raising your blood sugar too much— which would cause a crash in mood and strength afterwards.
Proteins balance your digestion and stress management, helping your adrenals do their work without pressure.
Protein doesn’t have to mean meat. Plants, especially legumes and grains, can be rich sources of protein. Quinoa (so rich in amino acids), and the combination of Yamani rice and mung beans (together, a complete protein)let you unlock all the natural, plant-based goodies for gut balancing.
4. Seeds and nuts.
Most seeds and nuts (almonds and cashews, sunflower and chia especially) give your body crucial balancing nutrients.
Their B vitamins give you much-needed support for your overwhelmed HSP nervous system, regulating your mood and natural rhythms. Magnesium also soothes your nerves and boosts your stressed immunity. Fiber helps regulate your gut’s digestion, relieving discomfort and giving you more energy.
Seeds and nuts are also the easiest way to keep your energy stable throughout the day, starting with a brain-supporting breakfast. Then, just carry a few nuts or a bit of trail mix in your bag and pop a few whenever you feel hangry or haven’t eaten anything for a couple of hours.
This keeps your blood sugar level and helps you manage external stressors.
5. Raw Cacao.
As a highly sensitive person, you should avoid drinks that cause a spike in energy, as they can leave you frazzled and exhausted afterwards. These no-go include coffee, black tea, caffeinated energy drinks (obviously).
So how do you get a boost in energy without that jittery, anxious feeling?
The best way is to create a holistic diet with all of these tips— this heals your adrenal fatigue and gives you natural energy.
You can also drink a hot, nourishing cup of raw cacao in the morning. This is not chocolate but raw cocoa beans that are pressed cold so they keep all their good nutrients.
It’ll protect your nervous system and give you mood-balancing action (happy brain chemicals, anyone?) while also loading up on the iron, magnesium, and vitamins front. Results: a drink that helps you connect to your highest energy and nourish your body at the same time.
Make a calming morning ceremony out of it— set your intentions for a balanced approach to the day as you prepare your cacao drink. You can add some Adrenal Support to the mix to get all the balancing benefits.
Make holistic lifestyle changes.
It’s not just about what you consume but about how you do it and whether the other aspects of your life support that balance.
Try to prepare your meals at home and eat them in a soothing environment. Trust your body when it tells you a certain ingredient isn’t for you— this way, you’ll build up a relationship of trust and positive boundaries with yourself.
To balance your stress and heal HSP adrenal fatigue, you should build a daily routine that helps you find comfort. Practice gentle exercises like yin yoga, get enough hours of rest, choose relationships and activities that nourish you instead of draining you.
And most importantly, remember to love and accept yourself— with all your highly sensitive person quirks. Don’t feed into feelings of guilt over being yourself. Rather, build your inner support and intuition— they will take you to your balanced, happy place.