Eat Your Stress Goodbye
Eat Your Stress Goodbye – Stress-Reducing Diet
When you’re stressed out, the foods that you’re turning to are most likely going to be traditional ‘comfort’ foods – think oversized hedonic fatty, sweet foods, and alcohol. Let’s face it – many have found some comfort in a tasty meal and a bottle of beer or glass of wine when feeling stressed out or upset about something so no, you’re not alone. However, these temporary fixes aren’t good permanent solutions.
When your body isn’t getting the right nutrition, you can begin to feel lethargic, develop digestion issues, and in many cases, become less able to concentrate and focus. All of this can lead to even more biological stress!
Foods that Fight Stress
If you’ve been feeling more stressed out than usual lately, it’s important to know which foods are best to choose and which to avoid when it comes to combating stress and helping you to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety. The best way to fight stress is to have a healthy, balanced diet that includes a moderate amount of each of the different food groups with a heavy emphasis on vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. If you’re not sure what that looks like for you, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s work together.
Filling up on foods such as fibrous whole grains, leafy vegetables, and lean proteins as the basic staples of the diet is the best way to ensure that your body gets the optimum amounts of nutrients to fight both physical and mental health problems. When it comes to choosing the foods to eat, some have a range of great properties that help the body to combat stress. Choosing these stress-busting foods will help to heal and calm your mind when coupled with regular exercise.
Some great stress-fighting foods include:
- Avocado – Avocados are a creamy and versatile fruit that can be eaten in a range of different ways whether you enjoy it raw, made into sauces, dressings, and dips, or in a smoothie. These nutrient-dense fruits have the properties to stress-proof your body, thanks to their high glutathione content which specifically blocks the intestinal absorption of certain fats which cause oxidative damage. Avocados also contain higher levels of vitamin E, folate, and beta-carotene than any other fruit, which boosts their stress-busting properties. However, be careful with portion control when eating avocado, as it is high in fat.
- Blueberries – If you’re feeling stressed out and reaching for the snacks, swapping chocolate or chips for one of the best superfoods is a great way to help you deal with your stress levels and achieve a higher level of calm. Blueberries have some of the highest levels of antioxidants, especially anthocyanin, which means that this berry has been linked to a wide range of health benefits including sharper cognition, better focus, and a clearer mind – all of which can help you to better deal with stress.
- Chamomile Tea – Of course, it’s not all about what you’re eating when it comes to managing stress; what you’re drinking can also alleviate or worsen the stress you’re feeling. Drinking liquids that are high in sugars and caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks, or soda, can actually increase your stress levels if consumed regularly. Chamomile tea has long been used as a natural bedtime soother, and it has also been used in clinical trials, which showed promise as a way to help moderate anxiety symptoms.
- Chocolate – Although it’s usually seen as an unhealthy treat, there appears to be a link between chocolate and our mood. Studies have shown that eating chocolate can help with mood improvement. However, that doesn’t mean that you can start munching on chocolate bars every time you’re stressed out – chocolate works best as a de-stressor when eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Dark chocolate in particular is best for you, as it contains more flavanols and polyphenols, two hugely important antioxidants that can help combat biological stressors.
- Beef – Grass-fed beef is not only kinder to the planet and to animals, but it’s also good for people, too. Grass-fed beef has a huge range of antioxidants, including beta-carotene and Vitamins C and E, which can help your body to fight stress and anxiety. If you’re looking for more reasons to spend a little more money on organic, grass-fed beef, it also has higher amounts of brain-protective creatine, while being lower in fat than grain-fed beef whilst being higher in omega-3.
- Oatmeal – Oatmeal is great in that it can be filling comfort food, but also has a large number of healthy properties to actually make you feel better from the inside out. A complex carbohydrate, eating oatmeal helps mechanisms that support your brain to produce higher levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin; helping you to feel calmer and less stressed. Studies have shown that kids who choose oatmeal for breakfast tend to be much sharper throughout the morning in school compared to kids who had alternative morning meals.
- Walnuts – If you’re looking for a healthy snacking option that will help you to stay better in control of your stress levels, walnuts are a great choice. The sweet, pleasant flavour of walnuts makes them a tasty snack for in-between meals or as part of a dessert. A versatile nut, walnuts are great for salads or you can add them to a sweet treat such as coffee and walnut cake.
- Pistachios – Another food that is great for snacking on and can also help to combat stress and anxiety in the long term is pistachios. Studies have found that simply eating two small, snack-size portions of pistachios per day can lower vascular constriction when you are stressed, putting less pressure on your heart by further dilating your arteries. The rhythmic, repetitive act of shelling pistachios can actually be quite therapeutic too.
- Green Leafy Vegetables – Leafy, green vegetables should be a pivotal part of anyone’s diet. Along with helping to combat stress, leafy greens are full of nutrients and antioxidants which help to fight off disease and leave your body feeling healthier and more energized. Dark leafy greens, for example, spinach, are especially good for you since they are rich in folate, which helps your body to produce more mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which is a ‘feel-good’ chemical. Making leafy greens a part of your diet will help you to feel happier and less stressed out overall.
- Fermented foods – Last but not least, eating fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir can help to keep your gut healthy, which in turn can aid in improvements of your microbiota which can aid in pathways via the gut-brain axis to improve your mental health and stress levels.
Putting Together Your Nutrition Plan – Support is Key
Planning your meals wisely is key to not only staying physically fit and healthy but also to staying mentally strong and managing your levels of stress. Knowing which foods to minimize, and which are the warriors to your worries is important to help you get control and be resilient in the face of adversity.
When you’re feeling stressed, you may be tempted to reach for classic ‘comfort foods’, however, these foods will actually make you feel worse in the long run if not counterbalanced according to your personal needs.
When it comes to combating and dealing with stress in the long run, it’s important to make sure you are eating a diet which is healthy and balanced and are prepared in advance by stocking your kitchen filled with some of the foods mentioned above while keeping highly processed, hypercaloric foods out of your home. Make a plan for the week ahead and make sure that you have a good selection of these stress-busting foods in your kitchen.
Remember to exercise good portion control when eating foods such as nuts, chocolate, yogurt, or avocado! As the saying goes, you are what you eat – so make sure that first and foremost, you’re filling yourself up with foods that are good for your (physical and) mental health.