Do you ever find yourself, in times of stress, polishing off a pint of ice cream, scraping the bottom of a bag of salty potato chips, or gorging yourself on candy? Binge-eating is a common reaction to stress. Unfortunately, the foods chosen are usually of the empty-calorie type, causing blood-sugar spikes and plunges, which just exacerbates your sinking mood and adds guilt to anxiety.
Whether you’re grappling with constant daily stress or facing an extreme situation, what you eat can make a big difference in how well you cope. Check out these five healthy foods that help reduce garden-variety stress.
Sweet, snack-worthy, and stuffed with antioxidants, blackberries, black raspberries, blueberries and other dark-skinned berries contain anthocyanins which help in your body’s production of dopamine. That neurotransmitter helps modulate your brains’ reward and pleasure centers to regulate emotional responses to many stimuli, including stress.
Nuts And Seeds
Sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, and pumpkin and sesame seeds contain healthy amounts of magnesium, a mineral necessary for many vital cellular functions, including the regulation of hormonal responses and the production of serotonin. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression, as the neurotransmitter is one of several tasked with regulating mood.
Yes, your mother was right when she told you to eat your vegetables. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, okra and most leafy green vegetables contain high levels of folate, a natural form of Vitamin B9. The vitamin helps your body produce certain mood-regulating neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin.
It’s not an old wives’ tale: There’s a reason why grandmothers tried to spoon-feed your parents cod liver oil. Fish oils contain Omega-3 fatty acids, long since shown to have beneficial effects on skin, cardiovascular, and mental health. That doesn’t mean you have to pinch your nose and take bad-tasting medicine, however. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Winter squash
- Linseed Oil
Blood-sugar spikes can exacerbate an already stressful mood into an angry or irritable one. There’s a biological basis to being “hangry.” When your blood sugar is low, serotonin receptors are suppressed, causing irritability and a quick trigger to temper. The best antidote isn’t empty calories, which will only cause a blood-sugar crash later, but protein-rich foods which take longer to digest and emit a steadier supply of sugar into the blood. For a double benefit, choose proteins that also contain tryptophan, an amino acid necessary in serotonin production. These include turkey, cottage cheese, almonds, yogurt, and dried dates.
In the modern-day world, it’s all but impossible to remove stress from your live. But there are ways to cope with it. Eating well is just one first step to good mental and physical health.