“I’m so stressed!” – Top 5 Stress-Relieving Food Tips
By: Sharon Fong BA, CNP
“I’m so stressed!” We hear these words so often from co-workers, friends, family, even kids and the elderly are stressed these days. Speaking from experience, during times of stress, we sometimes turn to traditional "comfort" foods such as creamy macaroni and cheese, pizza, potato chips or that tub of ice cream. Ironically, although they provide comfort and instant gratification, unfortunately, these high-fat foods are usually poor choices because they can make us feel lazy and even more stressed afterwards.
Did you know? Stressful events—and they don't even have to be big, just the daily hassles of life—cause our cortisol levels to rise.
Cortisol causes food cravings, and in women those cravings tend to be strongest for carbs, especially sweet foods, according to researchers at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center. No wonder “Stressed” spelt backwards is “Desserts”.
See how stress affects your body,
Sooo... What Can You Do? Read on!!
I will tell you about a personal experience I used to test my top stress relieving foods.
Top 5 Stress-Relieving Foods Tips
1. Fruits and Vegetables
In one research study from the University of Otago, they found eating fruits and vegetables of any sort (except fruit juice and dried fruit) helped adults calm their nerves. Leafy greens (nuts and seeds) are high in magnesium, a vital nutrient when in it comes to our body’s natural stress coping mechanism. A common sign of magnesium deficiency is an inability to manage stress, and other conditions such as high blood pressure, insomnia and fatigue.
The antioxidants and phytonutrients found in berries fight in your defense, helping improve your body's response to stress and fight stress-related free radicals.
3. Crunchy Foods such as Nuts
Nuts - such as pistachios, walnuts and almonds are crunchy. The crunching sound and biting action can be a good stress relieving activity to help release tension in the jaw and neck. The action of shelling nuts such as pistachios can be therapeutic and relaxing. So, rather than reaching for that bag of greasy potato chips, try snacking on other crunchy foods like nuts, baby carrots, celery, cucumbers, snap peas, dried chickpeas or organic popcorn. These alternatives provide the satisfying "crunch" that we often associate with stressed-out snacking!
4. Dark Chocolate
Yes, you read it correctly, “Dark Chocolate” may help with stress! This refers to dark chocolate, containing 60 to 70% natural cocoa with little or no added sugar. Some studies show, there's a chemical reason behind eating chocolate, called anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and depression. It's a derivative of the Sanskrit word "bliss". So bliss out and enjoy some dark chocolate.
5. Wild Salmon or Fish and Avocado
While, you may not feel like reaching for fish or avocado when you are stressed, they contain omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, which play a role in your emotional well-being and health. Still not convinced - make a salmon dip or guacamole with fresh herbs and serve with pita chips, crunchy carrots or low sodium tortilla chips.
I mentioned earlier that I wanted to tell you about a personal experience to test out my top stress relieving foods. Well, I did just that at a family lunch meeting where the topic of discussion involved different opinions and could have easily ended in a heated debate. So, I took a deep breath and meticulously prepared the meal for my family, including my very stressed out 88-year-old mother. I incorporated as many of the above foods on the menu to include: red snapper and grilled lemon, arugula and asparagus, sliced avocado and pistachio salad and for dessert mixed berries, nuts and dark chocolate. The result of our afternoon lunch – surprisingly well. I would say the best family meeting ever with no stress!
Try some of these destressing foods, you might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome!
To learn how to make stress your friend, watch this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcGyVTAoXEU&t=602s
"10 Superfoods That Reduce Stress." Mercola.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2017.
Seelig, M. S. "Consequences of Magnesium Deficiency on the Enhancement of Stress Reactions; Preventive and Therapeutic Implications (a Review)." Journal of the American College of Nutrition. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 1994. Web. 29 May 2017.
Sunni, Ahmed Al, and Rabia Latif. "Effects of Chocolate Intake on Perceived Stress; a Controlled Clinical Study." International Journal of Health Sciences. Qassim University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oct. 2014. Web. 29 May 2017.