Episode 4: Nutrition in Times of Stress with Tiana Rockwell of Tri Real Foods

We have our first guest on A Little Dabble Do You!

Tiana Rockwell is a Real Food Nutritionist, Endurance Athlete, and Coach who Sara has been working with for about five years. They first connected at a talk Tiana was giving about race-day nutrition; Sara was training for a half-marathon and her mind was blown by Tiana's practical and knowledgeable nutrition advice.

Tiana first got into nutrition after an incident while racing. After having quite a lot of trouble with her digestion, which is a pretty common problem amongst endurance runners, Tiana sought out a nutritionist who then encouraged her to go back to school. 

“I had so much enthusiasm and passion and questions on the subject that [my nutritionist] was really passionate about me exploring [nutrition] as a career.” 

So, Tiana pursued nutrition as a career and graduated from NTA in 2014! She has a private practice in Northern California working with clients online and in-person all over the world.

Though she works primarily with athletes, Tiana has recently had a lot of people reach out to her because the times are so different than what we are traditionally used to.

Which brings us to today's episode of A Little Dabble Do You:

Photo Courtesy of Tiana Rockwell

Managing Nutrition in Times of Stress

This topic is particularly timely, as we are facing so much stress from both the pandemic and from civil unrest. But, this is also something I think about annually. Being in the wine industry, my nutrition and overall health often take a backseat during harvest where my hours are irregular and my exhaustion is ever-present; and Sara must also plan for times of stress when training for triathlons.

Here are Tiana's tips for managing nutrition in planned (and unplanned) times of stress:

Add salt to your water:

When in stressful times our cortisol levels rise which results in the hormones that regulate things like sodium intake get blocked. When this happens, our cravings for things with salt get stronger. So, adding a pinch of unrefined salt (like Himalayan salt or Real Salt) to your water can help regulate that craving so you don’t end up loading up on “naked foods” like potato chips and french fries that don’t have any nutritional value.

Add foods (especially before bed) that are going to help you sleep:

Sleep is the only time our body has to detoxify and rejuvenate our bodies. So, making sure we get adequate sleep is very important.

One of Tiana’s favorite recipes to help with sleep is blending ~4-6 oz Coconut Kefir and a handful of frozen tart cherries, which will then create a frozen-yogurt type of dessert, which you can then top with things like walnuts or cocoa nibs, which help produce melatonin that will help with sleep.

In that same vein...

Eliminate or limit foods that prevent sleep:

If you’re sensitive to caffeine (which can be sneakily introduced to your diet through things like Kombucha), try to eliminate those things a few hours before bedtime. 

Also, consider eliminating or limiting alcohol and sugar intake during times of stress.

Eliminate or limit foods that are hard to process:

Gluten & Dairy have the longest proteins and so take longer to digest. When we’re really stressed out, in our “fight or flight” mode, we don’t digest food as well, so longer proteins like gluten and dairy are just added burdens on our digestive system.

For those of us who’ve been baking during quarantine, check out our friend Deanna’s recipe for Gluten Free SourDough

Add more nutrient-dense foods and eliminate nutrient “naked” foods

We encourage you to grow your own food if you can (click here for our first episode on gardening) but if you can't, shop at your local farmer’s market or join a CSA, as this food is often grown in a way that maximises nutrition.

But the very least, work to eliminate highly processed foods that are "nutrient naked"

Q & A

Do you have a cutoff time for caffeine? 

It depends on your metabolism but in general, Tiana recommends not consuming caffeine after 2:00 PM, but of course, you need to test that for yourself.

Why do I crave chocolate around my period?

A lot of food cravings are centered around a nutrient deficiency. When women are menstruating, they are often deficient in Magnesium. Chocolate has a high magnesium content, which is why a lot of women crave chocolate when they are menstruating. Check out Tiana’s Food Craving Chart for more info on this.

How do we get our household “on board” with better nutrition?

The simple answer is to lead by example, you may have to be the only one following these rules for a while. But often when loved ones see their family members thriving, that is contagious. Don’t force it on the people around you, but do be genuine about how it’s helping you.

How do we prepare for a season of stress that we know about (example: harvest season or tax season for CPAs)

  • Partner with peers and support each other as in one person brings the other dinner on Monday and the friend brings you dinner on Friday, etc.
  • Meal planning apps like Real Plans really help create healthy grocery lists
  • If you have the resources, even paying someone to do your grocery shopping or cooking for you during your season of stress.
  • Pre-ordering or pre-making healthy frozen foods 

Just for FUn

Here is probably my favorite photo of Sara, our dad, and I. I have an almost insatiable love for artichokes and while my sister distracted dad with a kiss, I pilfered a few leaves from his artichoke.


Friday, June 26 at 5:00 PM PST

Instagram LIVE on the Craft & Cluster Instagram

Sara will be talking about her passion for cut flower gardening and how YOU can grow your own bouquets!

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