Stress is your body’s traitor. It weakens your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to all types of ailments. You may follow the healthiest diet and the best exercise regimen, but when stress strikes, your body’s natural defenses crumble.
Many people tend to deal with stress by eating it away. Food has a way of calming you down and making you feel good. Unfortunately, emotional eating is a bad habit to fall into, especially since those who do it usually turn to “special treats” that are not the best for the health.
While turning to food and binging is not a healthy response to stress, food in itself is not the problem. The right food may actually help.
Real Comfort Food
If you’re stressed and you feel that food is just the ticket to calm you down, choose wisely. The body tends to crave carbs when feeling down. Doughnuts and a family-size bag of chips aren’t your best options, however. The more you eat them, the worse your mood gets.
Fortunately, there are foods with real calming properties. They have the specific nutrients that provide reliable energy as well as help sharpen your focus and promote balance.
It’s time to rethink your comfort food. Switch to the following as your go-to sustenance when stressed.
Stress takes away B vitamins from your body. When you need replenishment, it’s a good idea to snack on nuts, which are a good source of these.
All sorts of nuts work against stress. The following have other nutrients that also help fight it.
- Pistachios are high in potassium and can lower blood pressure, reducing the strain that stress puts on the heart.
- Walnuts have omega-3 fatty acid and other polyphenols that give you a cognitive edge, boosting brain power that helps you cope better with stress.
- Cashews are rich in zinc. Anxiety and depression have been associated with low zinc levels, so it’s important to get some zinc every day.
2. Red peppers
These are rich in vitamin C, which lowers the stress hormone cortisol and helps people cope with tension. Red peppers have twice as much vitamin C as oranges.
3. Green vegetables
Leafy green veggies, especially spinach, are rich in magnesium, a known stress-buster. Since magnesium helps regulate cortisol and blood pressure, low magnesium levels are associated with elevated C-reactive proteins, which are then linked to stress and depression.
Asparagus, another green vegetable, is high in folate, which helps you keep your cool. Folic acid and the B vitamins are wonderful for boosting cognitive health and reducing stress.
While oatmeal is indeed associated with warmth and comfort, it is also a complex carbohydrate that causes your brain to generate serotonin, a destressing neurotransmitter.
Beta-glucan, a soluble fiber found in oats, also promotes better satiety scores, which makes oatmeal a more satisfying option than other whole grain foods.
In moderation, chocolate does make you feel better, thanks to its polyphenols and flavonols, two antioxidants that help lower cortisol. Dark chocolate has more of these antioxidants than fruit juices.
Studies also showed that people who ate a chocolate bar a day had lower levels of “fight or flight” hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine).
Another one long associated with warmth and comfort, tea is also linked to lower cortisol levels. It soothes the digestive tract and the nerves in your gut.
Since caffeine often amps up the stress response, it’s best to drink decaf or herbal. Chamomile is particularly calming.
Different kinds of fruits are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants that help lower stress. Special mention is awarded to the following:
- Avocados are said to stress-proof the body with its nutritional mix of glutathione, lutein, beta-carotene, vitamin E, folate, and B-vitamins.
- Berries are particularly rich in vitamin C. Blueberries also have high amounts of anthocyanin, which is associated with a variety of health benefits, including sharper cognition.
It has allicin, which is an immune system booster. Since stress weakens the immune system, eating garlic is a great natural way to combat this side effect. Besides allicin, it also has other powerful antioxidants that help prevent damage from stress.
Besides these eight, other things you can eat for better stress management are grass-fed beef, salmon, and oysters. Grass-fed beef and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants while oysters are a great source of zinc.
It would also be good to take food supplements. Choose the top multivitamins for stress reduction.
Eat Your Stress Away
Food can be an emotional anesthesia. That’s why people tend to overindulge when they’re upset. This, however, has a negative impact on health and weight.
By eating moderate amounts of anti-stress food, you can calm yourself down and gain mental clarity to better cope with your stressors.