If you want to decrease your stress levels by eating, it can be done. You just have to make sure to avoid the wrong foods and focus on the right foods. The problem is knowing which foods are which. That’s why we’ve put together this list of dos and don’ts: foods you should and should not be eating to reduce stress.
Don’ts – Foods that Cause Stress
There are some foods that actually contribute to your stress. Stay away from these foods whenever possible.
While a lot of people are tempted to turn to desserts and candy during times of stress, they’re not doing themselves any favors. The sugar not only makes you jittery and nervous, but it causes your body to release cortisol, which is commonly referred to as the “stress hormone.” As you might have guessed, avoiding cortisol is critical for reducing your stress levels.
Avoid Processed Foods
Processed foods should be avoided at all costs when you’re feeling stressed out. Typically these foods provide no nutrition for your body, and they are packed with fat, salt and sugar. Once again, these foods will ramp up your body’s production of cortisol.
Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners may not directly contribute to stress, but their indirect contribution should not be overlooked. These sugar-imitating chemicals cause bloating, which can lead to feelings of irritability and discomfort. Certainly not the feelings you’re looking for when trying to relax.
Dos – Foods That Make You Feel Less Stressed
While there are plenty of foods you shouldn’t reach for when stress is knocking at your door, there are other foods that you should seek out. There are plenty of foods that can actually decrease your stress.
Allow Dark Chocolate
Chocolate is a favorite when feeling stressed. And fortunately, it’s a stress-free food! But you have to make sure you’re eating dark chocolate, at least 70% cacao. It’s packed with flavonoids and antioxidants, which help to battle the effects of stress on the body. Enjoy this treat in moderation, however, as it is fairly high in calories.
This high-fiber and carbohydrate food will keep you energized throughout the day, which makes you much less likely to feel stressed. The carbs will help your body to produce serotonin, a hormone that helps you to relax, and the fiber will slow down digestion, allowing the serotonin to stay in your bloodstream for a longer period of time.
Any fish will help you battle stress because of its high omega-3 fatty acid content, but salmon is the best. It has a high amount of omega 3’s, but doesn’t come with much mercury. Try to stick to wild caught salmon for the best results.
Allow Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are filled with antioxidants, which combat the effects that cortisol has on the body. In fact, chia seeds have three times the antioxidants found in blueberries, which are said to pack quite the antioxidant punch. Not only that, but chia seeds come with quite a few additional health benefits.
Eat Right to Reduce Stress
It’s not an uncommon practice for people to try to eat their stress away. Unfortunately, most people reach for the wrong things. They go for sweets, processed foods and artificially sweetened items that only serve the increase their stress levels.
When done correctly, however, what you eat can reduce your stress. A few of your best options are dark chocolate, oatmeal, salmon and chia seeds. The nutrients and antioxidants founds in these foods help to lower your stress levels and even fight the effects that too much stress has on your body. Eat your way to a happier you today.
Sara Edwards is a health and fitness guru. She is passionate about using the diet to cure common ailments and lifestyle maladies. Right now, chia seeds are her favorite anti-stress food. She wrote an article about the benefits of chia seeds. When she isn’t sharing her tips online, Sara is in the kitchen experimenting with different foods!