If you want a stress free week, this should be your breakfast according to a nutritionist

The general goal of a morning nutrition plan is one that both keeps us energized in addition to ensuring our stress levels remain as low as possible.

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Peggy Kostopoulos is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and the spokesperson for Lenny & Larry’s. Recently, Kostopoulos imparted some unconventional dietary advice to Ladders, on behalf of professionals looking to put their best foot forward when facing a big interview. She detailed the perfect, pre-interview breakfast – one that is rich in protein,  healthy fat, and high in fiber.

The general goal of a morning nutrition plan is one that both keeps us energized in addition to ensuring our stress levels remain as low as possible.


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Curious of the potential long term benefits this nutritional advice might yield if implemented into a regular diet, I asked the stress guru if she could illuminate the perfect stress-less week, complete with the kind of foods and activities, that objective might entail.

Here’s what Kostopoulos had to say.

Holy basil and Passionflower tea

Holy basil is a plant that hails from India, though it can be found in many regions all over the world. It’s been studied to help our bodies cope with depression, inflammation, tension, trauma, anxiety, and stress. It proffers these incredible health benefits by acting on the neurotransmitters in our brains. These healing plants belong to the classification Adaptogen.

Fresh or dried holy basil can be added to teas and even food, to maximize its pacifying effects. “Research has shown that ursolic acid and the triterpenoic acids, both found in holy basil, effectively improve the body’s response to stress and reduce the amount of cortisol released during stress,” Kostopoulos told Ladders.

Similarly,  Kostopoulos occasioned the Passionflower, a climbing vine, that is born in the Southeastern United States, and Central and South America. The vine can be taken orally to amend poor sleeping habits. Some people have actually applied Passionflower flower to the skin to help alleviate burns and inflammation.  The plant is commonly added to tea, as it comes with numerous benefits to mental wellbeing, in this form. It is known to calm nerves, and reduce anxiety with its mild tranquilizing properties.

As Kostopoulos explained to Ladders, “A study in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics indicated that passionflower was just as effective as the prescription medication Oxazepam in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and did not have any of the side effects such as impaired job performance.  Out of the 36 subjects with GAD, half were given 45 drops of passionflower extract per day, and the other half were given 30 milligrams of Oxazepam per day. After the four-week trial, there was no significant difference between the two groups. The study also determined that passionflower increases levels of the neurotransmitter GABA that helps with calm and relaxation.”

Self-care in the day to day

According to Kostopoulos, all it takes is 10 minutes a day to help reduce stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and achieve greater compacity for relaxation. It has all to do with securing moments of self-care in the day-to-day. Observing the little rituals that often get buried beneath the hustle-bustle of limited eight-hour cycles.

Things as simple as taking time to have meaningful conversations with friends, engaging in low to moderate intensity exercise, keeping a journal, “get all that crap out of your head (and body) and onto paper,” Kostopoulos wrote. Most importantly adopting the practice of mediation.  Although it’s not exactly the easiest habitual activity to employ, the benefits are well documented. Kostopoulos suggests you start slow with one to three-minute breaks throughout your day.

Lastly, make sure you get a good night’s rest. Kostopoulos added, “Helps to heal adrenal glands and restore cortisol levels. What’s important is sleep Quality vs. Quantity. Deep uninterrupted sleep. Shut off technology 2 hours before bed, get rid of any blue light and sleep in a cool room.”


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.