How many times have we, when stressed, take it out on food? When we’re chasing a deadline or multi-tasking, we order burgers with fries, a float, and a sundae. Or when we’re emotionally distressed we head out to our favorite pastry shop and order the biggest slice of chocolate cake to comfort us. We may think these foods have comforted us or somehow numbed the pain but the truth is, it did not. It may even cause mood swings, irritability and other emotions because of the the high sugar, trans fat, salt and other additives incorporated in the food.
Karen Salmansohn of NotSalmon.com says if we are not careful, stress eating can turn into an addiction. She adds that our tendencies to binge or overeat when stressed can be addressed by retraining the mind over time to choose the healthier alternative. Incidentally, she has a digital course called The Do It Program, which will help address these issues.
So, are there healthier stress buster options we can take? Yes, we do. Check out these superfoods:
1. Dark Chocolate.
Yes, we can still have our chocolates! Aside from the anti-oxidative effect of dark chocolates, it also produces Nitric Oxide, which stimulates the lining of the arteries. This component sends signals to the arteries to relax thus improving blood flow and lowers blood pressure.
2. Nuts and Seeds.
A handful of nuts like pistachios, walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds can help relieve stress. These are also rich in antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids that lowers blood pressure. The selenium in almonds and cashews elevates the mood while the omega 3 fatty acid in reduces depression. If possible choose organic nuts or avoid those that are bleached or dyed.
3. Green Leafy Vegetables and Fruits.
Dark green colored veggies like spinach and kale have the highest nutrient content. The folate component of spinach produces serotonin and dopamine which are mood-regulating neurotransmitters. Adding this to your salad may lower your risk of depression according to studies. Researchers also found that eating fruits helped young adults calm their nerves.
Blueberries contain anthocyanins which gives the fruit its deep color. This antioxidant helps produce dopamine which helps improve memory and coordination and mood. Other berries including strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are rich in vitamin C which lowers blood pressure and combat stress.
Rich in essential vitamins and nutrients, avocados can be your stress-relieving food. Consuming one half (half of an avocado) gives you a feeling of fullness which will reduce your need to snack later on. It’s nutrient content also regulates blood sugar levels which reduces the chances of mood swings.
This breakfast staple is said to produce serotonin, a feel-good chemical that helps relieve stress. Studies show that children who ate oatmeal for before heading to school were more alert and sharper throughout the morning. Adding fruits like bananas and berries can increase your protection against stress.
7. Chamomile Tea.
This tea has a rather calming effect so better take it before bedtime or you might snooze while at work! Studies proved that patients who had anxiety disorders reduced their symptoms after taking the tea for 8 weeks. Not only does chamomile calms the nerves but it promotes better sleep too.
At the end of the stressful day at work, a glass of wine can reduce tension and lower blood pressure. Red wine is also rich in flavonoids and antioxidants. Remember to take slow sips and only one glass.
Avoid sugary, starchy and highly processed foods when you are anxious. We think these foods “comfort” us but they have very deleterious effect on our bodies if we become addicted to them. When you are out of wits, grab a cup of tea or munch on pistachios or almonds. Combat stress with these new set of snack alternatives and you’ll be able to manage your day positively and healthily. Follow my blog on food where I have featured local restaurants serving healthy or organic food.