When you’re stressed & anxious, the foods that you’re turning to are most likely going to be traditional ‘comfort’ foods – think big meals, fatty foods, sweet foods, and alcohol. Let’s face it – we’ve all found some comfort in a tasty meal and a bottle of beer or glass of wine when we’ve been stressed out or upset about something. However, this isn’t the right solution.
These “comfort” unhealthy foods may make you feel better temporarily, but in the long run, you will feel worse. When your body isn’t getting the correct nutrients it requires, you can begin to feel less energetic, lethargic, and notice an increase in brain fog and lack of focus. All of this can lead to even more stress.
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 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 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 outstanding properties which help the body to combat stress. Choosing these stress-busting foods will help to heal and calm your nervous system.
Avocados are a creamy and versatile fruit which can be eaten in a range of different ways whether you enjoy them raw, made into sauces, dressings, 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.
Blueberries are a nutrient powerhouse! With some of the highest levels of antioxidants, especially anthocyanin. Which means that this berry has shown 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 and anxiety.
Chamomile Tea – Of course, it’s not all about what you’re eating when it comes to managing mental wellness. What you’re drinking can also alleviate or worsen the pressure you’re feeling. Drinking liquids which are high in sugars and caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks or soda, can increase your stress levels if consumed regularly. Chamomile tea has long traditional standing as a natural bedtime soother, and clinical trials, have determined that chamomile tea is effective in reducing the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.
Chocolate! Although seen as an unhealthy treat, there is an undeniable link between chocolate and our mood. Studies have shown that eating chocolate can make you happier. 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 flavonols and polyphenols, two hugely essential antioxidants which can help combat stress and anxiety.
Beef – Grass-fed beef is not only kinder to the planet and animals, but it’s better for people, too. Grass-fed beef has a vast 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 whilst being higher in omega-3.
Oatmeal is excellent in that it can be a source of filling comfort food, but also has a large number of beneficial properties to 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 and anxious. 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. If possible, choose organic, to avoid toxic glyphosate exposure.
Walnuts ~ have you noticed how they look like a brain?
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 flavour 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 homemade walnut cake.
Pistachios are another food which are excellent for snacking on and can also help to combat stress and anxiety. Studies have found that merely 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. Along with this, the rhythmic, repetitive act of shelling pistachios can be quite therapeutic!
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 invigorated. Dark leafy greens, for example, spinach, are especially beneficial 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.
Eating fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir can help to keep your gut healthy, which in turn will help to improve your mental health and reduce stress levels. The beneficial bacteria located in fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir, have a direct effect on your brain chemistry and transmit positive mood and behaviour regulating signals to your brain via the vagus nerve.
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