10 Breakfast Foods For Effective Stress Management

Written by GHBY Team on Thu, 17 August 2023

Key Highlights

  • While occasional bouts of stress might be effective in getting work done, being stressed for long periods can harm your health.
  • A staple of the tropical, plantains is a less sweet, more starchy version of bananas.
  • Cassava is a root vegetable that is commonly consumed in Nigeria and Ghana.
  • Including yam in your breakfast can reduce inflammation in the body and promote a healthy gut.
  • Eating nutritionally balanced, superfoods for breakfast is a great way to manage your stress.

Family, work, and community, all demand that their expectations be fulfilled. Under all this pressure, feeling exhausted and stressed out is normal. While occasional bouts of stress might be effective in getting work done, being stressed for long periods can turn out to be a big no-no for your health, both mental and physical.

There are effective ways of keeping your stress in check. And eating the right food at the right time is one among them, starting with breakfast.

This blog will tell you about 10 breakfast foods for effective stress management. This will include foods to reduce cortisol levels, and also suggest breakfast foods that help with anxiety.

Food and stress relief: What's the connection?

Millions of years ago when man transformed from an ape, like the Homo Erectus in Africa, acquiring food was a priority.

However, this wasn't an easy thing. Hunting and gathering food was a daily struggle back then. During these times, after bearing the hardships of the environment, and surviving the competition of life, when man attained food, it was bliss. A pure release of endorphins.

The connection between man and food is an intimate one. Feeling relaxed and content after a meal is in our nature. We have often heard terms like anti-stress food, stress-relief foods, foods that reduce stress, etc. These terms are common because food indeed has a calming effect on our minds.

Fighting stress with some healthy food ingredients can prove to be good for you!

Carbs and anxiety

Carbohydrates, especially complex carbs found in foods like whole wheat flour, millet, and cassava, play a significant role in managing anxiety.

Carbs stimulate the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.

When serotonin levels are balanced, it can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calmness. Including carb-rich breakfast options in your daily routine can be a comforting way to start your day and keep anxiety at bay.

Breakfast ingredients to manage your stress levels

Breakfast ingredients to manage your stress levels

To manage your stress levels, effectively, it is extremely important to follow a diet to reduce cortisol, starting with breakfast.

Here are some power-packed breakfast ingredients to start your day with. These ingredients can tone down your stress levels and help you feel satiated throughout the day.

1. Bubur Cha Cha

Bubur Cha Cha is a coconut milk-based dessert that contains sweet potatoes, yams, taro, and sago pearls.

  • The coconut milk provides healthy fats and essential nutrients, while the sweet potatoes, yams, and taro are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber, providing sustained energy. Additionally, sago pearls offer a source of carbohydrates.
  • The combination of complex carbohydrates and healthy fats in Bubur Cha Cha helps stabilize blood sugar levels, preventing fluctuations that can contribute to mood swings and stress.
  • Coconut milk contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are known to have a positive impact on brain health and can enhance cognitive function, potentially reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Including Bubur Cha Cha as part of a lower cortisol diet can help manage stress levels by supporting balanced blood sugar and promoting overall well-being. Moreover, its warm and comforting nature can help soothe after eating anxiety, providing a sense of relaxation.

2. Thosai (Dosa)

Thosai is a fermented rice and lentil crepe, providing a good source of carbohydrates, proteins, and essential amino acids.

  • The fermentation process enhances nutrient absorption and increases the bioavailability of nutrients.
  • The carbohydrates in Thosai provide a quick source of energy, while the proteins and essential amino acids help in the synthesis of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which regulates mood and reduces stress.
  • The fermentation process also produces probiotics that promote gut health, and there is a strong connection between gut health and mental well-being.
  • Incorporating Thosai into a lower cortisol diet can aid in stress management by supporting gut health and providing a nourishing and satisfying breakfast option, thus reducing nutritional stress.
  • Additionally, the dosa's light and crispy texture can alleviate after eating anxiety and promote a sense of calmness.

3. Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak is made with fragrant coconut rice, providing healthy fats and carbohydrates. It is served with sambal, which contains chili peppers rich in capsaicin, known for its potential to boost endorphins and improve mood.

  • The combination of carbohydrates and healthy fats in Nasi Lemak helps maintain steady blood sugar levels, which is essential for stable mood and reduced stress.
  • The spicy sambal can trigger the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals, promoting a sense of well-being and relaxation.
  • Nasi Lemak can be a beneficial addition to a diet to reduce cortisol, contributing to stress reduction and overall emotional balance, thus minimizing nutritional stress.
  • Additionally, the flavorful and aromatic components of Nasi Lemak can provide a delightful post-meal experience, countering after eating anxiety.

Furthermore, the presence of coconut-based ingredients in Bubur Cha Cha and Nasi Lemak provides valuable medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are easily metabolized by the body and can boost brain function.

Additionally, the fermented nature of Thosai introduces probiotics, which play a role in maintaining a healthy gut, and a healthy gut is closely linked to improved mental health and stress reduction.

4. Black-eyed peas

A type of legume, these are rich in nutrients and great to begin your day with! The fact about these black-eyed peas is that they are beans. They grow widely in Africa and warm places all around the globe.

  • Rich in vitamin A, folate, and manganese, black-eyed peas are nutritionally an excellent choice for breakfast food.
  • They are rich in fiber and are known to be filling, which indeed helps one stay relaxed.
  • Their anti-inflammatory and blood pressure-reducing properties can be a boon to managing the stress on our bodies.

In Nigeria, black-eyes peas are a staple food to have with some rice. Sometimes, these beans are powdered into flour and used for making delicious and relaxing porridge for breakfast.

Black-eyed peas

5. Plantain

A staple of the tropical, plantains is a less sweet, starchier version of bananas.

Cultivated widely in Africa, plantains make an excellent breakfast in the form of porridge, roasted sides, and many more.

  • Plantains are rich in vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates which are good carbohydrates that keep you satiated for a long time.
  • Plantains are always cooked before consumption as they not only taste delicious that way, but they also maintain many of their health benefits.
  • The high levels of antioxidants in plantains scavenge the free radicals in your body keeping you robust and satiated until your next meal.

A breakfast comprising this super-food is bound to make your day a little more easy-going and relaxing for your body.

6. Cassava

Cassava is a root vegetable that is commonly consumed in Nigeria and Ghana. It is also known as yuca, manioc, or Brazilian arrowroot.

It is consumed all over Africa in various forms such as Fufu, Garri, Amala, Abacha, Casava tuber, Casava vegetable, Casava bread, and so on.

  • These foods are brimming with the all-around goodness of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and, minerals.
  • As Cassava is free of gluten, it makes for a great breakfast option for those with gluten intolerance.
  • Along with being a satiating food, cassava has the property to relieve stress and tiredness.

Incorporating this root in your breakfast can help you tackle the rest of the day with ease.

7. Cocoyam

Cocoyam is a starchy tuberous root that is widely consumed in Africa, more precisely Nigeria. Eating breakfast with cocoyam in it fills up with the energy that you need to kick start your day.

  • In Africa, Cocoyam is grated, boiled, or pounded to make delicious foods in the form of porridge, soups, or sides.
  • It is an excellent source of carbohydrates and a rich source of fiber and protein.
  • A boon to digestive health, cocoyam has many nutritional benefits including vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and high levels of essential amino acids.
  • The antioxidants in cocoyam put it on the list of foods that reduce oxidative stress.

So try it out, and see how this fulfilling ingredient evens out your stress throughout the day!

8. Yam

Yam, also known as Ghanian or Nigerian yam, is a staple in most African homes. It is often paired with delicious and nutritious soups that can add nutritional value to the meal.

  • Including yam in your breakfast can reduce inflammation in the body and promote a healthy gut. A happy gut promotes a happy mood.
  • Yam has high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and iron. These elements help in the production of RBCs and help in maintaining your energy levels.

So, say yes to yam, and bid goodbye to your hunger-related stress and anxiety.

9. Whole wheat flour

Whole grains are a great source of dietary fiber and important elements like iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and B vitamins.

Including whole wheat flour in your breakfast is a powerful way to start your day as it is packed with satiating carbohydrates.

  • In Nigeria, the wheat meal is used to make wheat Bukari or Fufu which is an excellent breakfast dish.
  • Brimming with antioxidants and phytonutrients, wheat flour can be used to make a variety of preparations for breakfast like wheat porridge.
  • The magnesium in wheat flour is associated with relieving stress and pain during period days.

Try out some wheat flour breakfast recipes to feel satiated and energized during the day.

10. Split peas

These are excellent sources of plant-based protein along with the additional health benefits of protein, fiber, iron, folate, thiamin, and potassium.

  • In Africa, specifically in Ethiopia, Kik alicha is a stew made of split beans. It is cherished by the people for its delicious flavor, healthy nature, and satiating consistency.
  • Having split peas or a mixture of split peas with vegetables for breakfast is a commendable way to stay fit as it helps with weight management and the management of blood sugar levels.

Reducing the stress on your body by taking care of it is the first step in managing your stress.

11. Fava beans

Packed with plant-based proteins, these are incredibly nutritious, pro-anthocyanidins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These components make them a go-to food for managing your stress levels.

  • Fava beans are rich in dietary fiber, folate, B vitamins, and other nutrients.
  • In Africa, Ful medames is an Egyptian breakfast dish made up of fava beans whereas Ful is a Somalian dish incorporating slow-cooked fava beans.

These nutritious and tasty fava beans can make great breakfast food for keeping your mind calm and the stress at bay.

12. Egusi

Egusi is the protein-rich seeds of cucurbitaceous plants such as squash, melon, and gourd. The use of these seeds in African countries like Nigeria and Ghana is prevalent.

  • These seeds are used to thicken soups and are even a component of gravies.
  • The richness that these seeds provide is also good for health. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and proteins.
  • Including these seeds in your breakfast regimen can improve their nutritional value and keep your energy levels up.
  • Omega-3 acids are rich in antioxidants and can help in dealing with stress.

Give egusi seeds a try and help your energy levels stay up all day!

13. Millet porridge

Millet is a high protein, high fiber, and high antioxidant grain that is grown in Nigeria and some other parts of Asia.

  • Millet is packed with carbohydrates and other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Rich in amino acids, millet acts as a building block for proteins in the body.
  • Millet is rich in antioxidant compounds that can help fight daily stress. In Ghana, the spiced millet porridge called Hausa Koko is a fermented dish that is a staple as nutritious food.
  • Including millet in your breakfast foods is a great way to boost your energy levels and keep your stress levels in check. Try out various millet recipes for your breakfast time and see if it makes a difference in your mental and physical health.


The right breakfast foods can make a huge difference to the rest of our day. So, it is important that you keep in mind a list of the most effective breakfast foods for stress management to give you energy to deal with your stress.

Make sure your plate is full with nutritionally-balanced foods to reduce cortisol. After all, staying fit and eating right are the two golden rules in stress management. So pick the right foods, and overcome stress!



GHBY Team comprises content writers and content editors who specialise in health and lifestyle writing. Always on the lookout for new trends in the health and lifestyle space, Team GHBY follows an audience-first approach. This ensures they bring the latest in the health space to your fingertips, so you can stay ahead in your wellness game. 

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  1. Naidoo U, et al. Eat to Beat Stress. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2020 Dec 8;15(1):39-42.
  2. Stress and Health | The Nutrition Source at 

Our team of experts frequently monitors developments in the health and wellness field, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

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Aug, 17 2023

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