We have all experienced some form of stress at one time or another. Whether this be work-related, studying for exams or from any of the other issues life can throw at us.
The difference comes in how it manifests. Everybody handles stress in different ways. Some may turn to emotional eating or some may lose their appetite altogether.
The general rules for food when it comes to stress are to eat a varied and healthy diet and not to skip meals. These are general tips for good health anyway. But when under stress, the body uses more essential nutrients than it would on a normal day. Thus, it’s particularly important these are being topped up to help you cope.
Stay calm with these five anti-stress foods:
Start your day with a small serving of complex carbohydrates. These boost serotonin levels (the body’s ‘happy chemical’), leaving you more relaxed.
Top your porridge with lots of fruit. Particularly those full of vitamin C and antioxidants, such as strawberries. These are good for your immune system and can help with stress. Or, serve your breakfast with a glass of fresh orange or grapefruit juice, as they have the same benefits.
Did you know that your feelings of anxiety could be rooted in a vitamin B deficiency, which we need for healthy nerves and brain cells? Avocados are rich in vitamin B and monounsaturated fat, magnesium and potassium. These help lower blood pressure.
You can incorporate this into your diet by adding it into smoothies. This is particularly good for those people who aren’t too keen on the taste, as it is a lot more subtle. Especially if you mix it with raw cacao powder (this is DELICIOUS as well). You can also crush it mix it with chili flakes and a squeeze of lemon as a topping for your morning toast. This tastes amazing with a poached egg. Or, whip up some guacamole and serve with vegetable sticks.
Nuts contain high levels of zinc and magnesium. These play a crucial role in moderating the way the brain and body respond to stress. Some of the best to choose from are almonds, cashews and walnuts.
Why not grab a handful and mix with your favourite seeds and dried fruit to make your own trail mix to nibble on?
Omega-3s can help reduce anxiety and promote clear and focused thinking. They can also help keep cortisol (a steroid hormone) and adrenaline from spiking when you’re feeling tense.
Try to incorporate oily fish into your diet three times a week to ensure you’re getting adequate levels. Serve with dark leafy greens, which contain high levels of magnesium. A depletion of this mineral can lead to headaches, anxiety and restlessness.
Your go-to chocolate bar can result in a a sugar rush, leaving you feeling jittery and not long after that, you crash. This will leave you feeling lethargic and unable to focus. Opt for healthier options instead, like dark chocolate (minimum 70% cacao). This study found that the polyphenols found in cocoa beans can reduce the level of stress hormones in your blood.
What to avoid?
In addition to sugary foods, it’s best to avoid some other food groups when you’re feeling stressed. This includes wheat-based products. When these are processed in your body they are immediately broken down to sugar. It’s also best to avoid (where possible) caffeine and alcohol. Instead, pour yourself a cup of green tea, which is gentler on the body. It contains theanine (an amino acid), for promoting relaxation and anti-stress effects.
Let us know in the comments below your top tips for dealing with stress! Or, tweet us at @totmorganic.