What you eat can directly affect how you feel. It is not uncommon to go straight for the comfort foods, or refined carbohydrates, when we are stressed and eat them in unhealthy quantities. So the next time you are feeling stressed, stop before you grab that bag of potato chips or ice cream and consider the following stress-reducing foods instead. Making changes to your diet by including the right foods, will help lead to a much calmed and stress-free you.
1. Blueberries – Identified as one of the healthiest foods around. Blueberries are very high in vitamin C, which has been shown to give the body added reserves to help it deal with high levels of stress. Also, blueberries contain a high amount of fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels that fluctuate too much are a major contributor to stress for some people.
2. Low fat or skim milk – Milk is very high in calcium and B vitamins, which help to build your bones and protect nerve health. It is also high in protein, and protein also helps blood sugar to stay stabilized. Try mixing some milk, a sweetener and some frozen blueberries in the blender for a healthy pick-me-up that is super good for you, and an excellent alternative to ice cream!
3. Oranges – Oranges are very rich in vitamin C. When you are stressed, your body releases even more free radicals than usual. Vitamin C helps to keep the free radicals in check, and repairs the body. Basically, it helps protect the body from the cumulative effects of stress.
4. Brown rice – All whole grains, including bulger wheat, quinoa, oats and brown rice contain plenty of B vitamins and also supply serotonin producing carbohydrates that do not spike blood sugar levels. They also contain plenty of healthy fiber.
5. Green vegetables – Broccoli, kale, and other dark green vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins that help replenish our bodies in times of stress. Many vegetables also contain potassium, which is good for our nerves and can calm them. Also, when we eat a diet high in vegetables, we do not feel weighed down by our diet, and it is easier to get stress-reducing exercise.
6. Dried apricots – These are rich in magnesium, which is a stress-buster. Some people even say that magnesium helps reduce heart palpitations brought on by stress. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant as well. Apricots are also high in fiber and vitamin C. Don’t eat too many of them, though, because they also contain quite a bit of fructose, a type of sugar.
7. Turkey – Turkey contains an amino acid called L-Tryptophan. This amino acid triggers the release of serotonin, which is a feel-good brain chemical. This is the reason why many people who eat turkey feel relaxed, or even tired, after eating it. L-Tryptophan has a documented calming effect. Chicken is also high in this amino acid. However, don’t eat them fried, or your body will be so busy digesting the fats that you will miss out on the benefit of these foods!
8. Soy – Try adding foods that are made out of soy to your diet, such as soy milk, tofu, tempeh and soy nuts. Soy is high in protein, B vitamins, calcium and magnesium.
9. Sweet potatoes – Sweet potatoes can be particularly stress reducing because they can satisfy the urge we get for carbohydrates and sweets when we are under a great deal of stress. Instead of reaching for a doughnut, eat one of these instead. They are packed full of beta-carotene and other vitamins, and the fiber helps your body to process the carbohydrates in a slow and steady manner.
10. Water – While technically not a food, it is important to have sufficient water intake, as even a mild state of dehydration can stress your entire body. Keep your nerves steady by staying well hydrated.
Not only are these foods great at helping reduce stress, they are also healthy choices. Eating them in combination will give you plenty of variety in your diet. Watch for stress-reducing recipes that include they great foods, coming soon.