When you are overwhelmed with stress, the foods that you most likely turn to are going to be the usual “comfort” foods – chips, cookies, ice cream, alcohol, fatty foods, and big meals.
Realistically speaking, we have all, at one time or another, found comfort in a big, tasty meal, or a bottle of ice-cold beer or maybe a glass of wine when we’ve been stressed out or upset about something. However, this is not the right solution we should adhere to.
When you turn to unhealthy foods, you will get a temporary fix, but over the long haul, you will feel worse. When your body isn’t getting the right nutrients, you will feel less energetic, more lazy, and in some cases, unable to focus or concentrate. This can only result in further stress.
Below is a list of the best stress relieving foods that will help you fight stress.
Stress Relieving Foods
If you have been overloaded with stress lately, it’s essential to be aware of which stress relieving foods can help fight stress and which to avoid. A significant way to combat stress is to eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes a moderate amount of each of the essential food groups.
Foods such as whole grains, lean proteins, leafy vegetables, and fruits are the basic staples of a healthy diet. Including them in your diet is the best way to ensure that your body gets the optimal amounts of nutrients to fight both mental health problems and physical issues.
When it comes to picking the foods to eat, some have a range of exceptional properties that help the body reduce stress. Regular consumption of stress relieving foods will help to heal and calm your mind permanently, rather than providing a temporary fix.
Here is a list of the best stress relieving foods:
Avocados are a creamy and versatile fruit that can be eaten in a range of different ways, whether you enjoy it raw, as a dressing, as a dip, made into a sauce, or included in a smoothie.
This nutrient-dense fruit has the ingredients to stress-proof your body, particularly their high glutathione content that works to block the intestinal absorption of certain fats that cause oxidative damage.
Avocados also have a higher level of vitamin E, beta-carotene, and folate, in comparison to other fruits, which further strengthens their stress-fighting properties. However, always consume this fruit in moderation due to their high-fat content.
If you’re feeling stressed and you are urging for a snack, swapping chips or a chocolate bar for one of the premier superfoods is an excellent way to cushion your immune system to help it deal with your stress levels.
Blueberries, arguably, have the highest content of antioxidants than any other fruit, particularly anthocyanin. Studies have linked this berry to a wide range of health benefits, including better focus, sharper cognition, and a clearer mind – all of which can help you to better deal with stress.
It’s not just about what you’re eating when it comes to dealing with stress. What you drink can also alleviate or worsen stress. Drinking liquids that are high in caffeine and sugars, such as soda or coffee, can actually worsen your stress levels if consumed regularly.
Chamomile tea is known as a natural bedtime soother. Studies have shown that chamomile tea is effective in reducing the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.
Although it’s ordinarily seen as an unhealthy snack, there is scientific evidence showing chocolate can affect our moods, and make us happier. However, this does not suggest that you start munching on chocolate bars as soon as you feel stressed-out.
Chocolate works best as a de-stressor when consumed in moderation and included in a healthy, balanced diet. Dark chocolate with 85% cacao or above, in particular, is best for you, as it contains more flavonols and polyphenols, two essential antioxidants that can help combat stress.
Organic meat is not only kinder to the planet and to animals, but it’s also suitable for people. Organic meat has a wide range of antioxidants that includes Vitamins C and E and beta-carotene.
These antioxidants fight stress and anxiety. Organic beef is more expensive, but if you want healthy, low-fat meat that also contains high amounts of Omega-3s than this is your perfect bet.
Oatmeal, known as a superfood, has a large number of healthy properties that can actually make you feel better. Eating oatmeal, a complex carbohydrate assists the brain in producing high levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood.
Serotonin can help you feel less stressed. Research has shown that children who ate oatmeal for breakfast tended to be much sharper throughout the day in school in comparison with children that did not.
If you want a healthy snack that will help you control your stress levels, eating walnuts is a great choice. There is no denying the sweet, delicious flavor of walnuts. They make a tasty snack for in-between meals or as part of a dessert. A flexible nut, walnuts can be used in many ways – from salads, a treat with coffee, to make Walnut Cake, etc.
Another food that is great for snacking and helpful in combatting stress and anxiety if consumed regularly is pistachios. Studies have shown that eating two small, snack-size portions per day reduces vascular constriction when you get stressed, putting less pressure on the heart by dilating its arteries.
Leafy, green vegetables should be a significant part of anyone’s diet. Along with helping to fight stress, leafy greens are filled with antioxidants and nutrients that help fight off disease, make you feel leave your body feeling healthier and more energized. Some healthy leafy greens are spinach and collard greens. They are rich in folate, a B Vitamin that can help your body produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, the ‘feel-good’ chemical. Leafy greens should be included in your diet to help you fight stress and to feel happier overall.
Fermented foods such as yogurt keep your gut healthy and will help improve your mental health and stress levels. The essential bacteria that are found in fermented foods can directly affect your brain chemistry and can transmit positive mood and behavior regulating signals to your brain via the vagus nerve.
All nuts have always been considered a good snack food. However, cashews just may beat them all. Cashews are full of protein and Omega-3s and are rich in zinc, a mineral that helps in the prevention of stress.
Zinc deficiency is the primary cause of stress and anxiety. So, eating more of this mineral will help you combat stress. Having some cashews every day is beneficial for anyone. Also, they can also be a high protein snack for those trying to lose weight.
Salmon has so many health benefits, the major being stress relief. The fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is a potent anti-inflammatory agent.
Studies show that it helps to reduce the stress hormone cortisol as well as adrenaline and induces a calming effect. People who regularly eat salmon have been shown to have a reduced level of stress as compared to those who do not.
Planning Your Diet
Planning your diet meals carefully is vital not only for physical fitness but also for mental health and managing stress. Having the knowledge to know which foods to eat when you are worried, anxious, or stressed is crucial and essential to help control your emotions and/or fears.
Ordinarily, people that are stressed reach for the classic, “quick pick-me-up comfort foods,”– regularly foods that are sugary, starchy, or greasy. Although these foods can make you give you a momentary lift, they are actually counterproductive in the long run.
Having stress relieving foods to snack on, such as fresh berries, dark chocolate, yogurt, walnuts or pistachios, or even a fruit smoothie with avocado and leafy greens will help you feel less stressed in both the short and long term. If you are around many stress triggers throughout the day, it is of utmost importance that you eat a healthy and nutritious diet.
In order to stay focused, it’s a good idea to make a menu plan for your week to make sure that you have a good selection of these stress relieving foods in your kitchen to snack on. Ensuring that your meals include foods such as lean proteins and leafy green vegetables will not only make you feel healthier over-all, but they will also improve your mental health and stress levels.
An example of a healthy, stress relieving food menu could be:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries or a fruit smoothie with avocado and blueberries.
Mid-morning snack: Natural low-fat yogurt with fruit or a handful of crushed cashews or walnuts.
Lunch: A pasta salad that includes plenty of leafy greens
Afternoon snack: Handful of pistachios or dark chocolate.
Dinner: Organic beef with vegetables
Before bed: Have a cup of chamomile tea
There is no set rule that you must stick to this specific menu – this is to give you a good start on how to structure it. Remember, always eat in moderation when eating foods such as nuts, chocolate, yogurt, or avocado! You are what you eat – so, why not ensure that you are filling yourself up with stress relieving foods that are essential for your mental health.