When stress comes along into your life, you are more likely to opt-in for those traditional ‘comfort’ foods such as fast food and alcohol. Let’s face it…we’ve all found some comfort in a tasty, greasy hamburger, a bottle of beer or a glass of wine when we’ve been stressed out or upset about something. However, this isn’t a good permanent solution.
When you’re turning to unhealthy foods you can feel better temporarily, but in the long run, you will feel worse. When your body isn’t getting the right nutrition, you can begin to feel less energetic, more lethargic, and in some cases less able to concentrate and focus. All of this can lead to even more stress and then the cycle continues.
Foods That Fight Stress
If you’ve been feeling more stressed out than usual lately, it’s important to know which foods can help to alleviate stress and which ones to avoid to help you to combat stress and anxiety. The best way to fight stress is to have a healthy, balanced diet which includes a moderate amount of each of the different food groups.
Filling up on foods such as whole grains, leafy vegetables, and lean proteins as the basic staples of your diet is the best way to ensure that your body is getting the optimum amounts of nutrients. This will aid in fighting both physical and mental health problems.
There are many foods out there that have a range of great properties to combat stress. Choosing stress-busting foods will aid the body in healing and calming your mind, rather than providing a temporary fix. Some of the best stress-fighting foods include:
- Avocados – They are a creamy and versatile fruit which can be eaten in a variety of ways. Whether you enjoy it raw, made into a sauce, dressing, dip, or a smooth, this nutrient-dense fruit has 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, this fruit needs to be added to your diet in some capacity. 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 a snack, 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 –It’s not all about what you’re eating when it comes to managing stress, as what you’re drinking can also alleviate or worsen stress. Drinking liquids which 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 determined that chamomile tea is effective in reducing the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder
- Chocolate – Although it’s usually seen as an unhealthy treat, there is an undeniable link between chocolate and our mood. Studies have shown that eating chocolate can actually make you happier. However, that doesn’t mean that you can start munching on chocolate bars every time your 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 flavonols and polyphenols, 2 hugely important antioxidants which can help combat stress, more than many fruit juices.
- Beef – Grass-fed beef is also good for you as it 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’s also lower in fat than grain-fed beef while being higher in omega-3.
- Oatmeal – Oatmeal is great in that it can be a filling comfort food, but also has a large number of healthy property to actually make you feel better from the inside out. A complex carbohydrate, eating oatmeal causes 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 which will help you to stay better in control of your stress levels, walnuts are a great choice. There is no denying the sweet, pleasant flavor of walnuts and they can be a tasty snack for in-between meals or as part of a desert. A versatile nut, walnuts are great for salads or add them to a sweet treat such as coffee and walnut cake.
- Pistachios – Another food which 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 2 small, snack-size portions of pistachios per day lowers vascular constriction when you are stressed out, putting less pressure on your heart by further dilating your arteries. Along with this, the rhythmic, repetitive act of shelling pistachios can actually be quite therapeutic!
- 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 yogurt can help to keep your gut healthy, which actually, in turn, will help to improve your mental health and reduce stress levels. The beneficial bacteria which are found in fermented foods such as yogurt actually have a direct effect on your brain’s chemistry and transmits positive mood and behavior-regulating signals to your brain via the vagus nerve.
These are just some of the many different foods that help to reduce your stress levels one day at a time. Try to incorporate these different food items into your diet and begin to enjoy the calmer you!
Stay on the lookout for another installment of Eating Your Way To Calm.
To your health,
P.S. – If you enjoyed this post on the Eat Your Way To Calm Part 1- Your Stress-Busting Diet, remember to like, share, and comment below.