When you’re super stressed, it’s tempting to turn to your favourite comfort foods to make you feel better. If this sounds like you, don’t feel bad! It’s a totally normal response to stress. Unfortunately, it’s not a healthy one for our bodies, because these foods actually increase the levels of cortisol in our bodies, making us MORE stressed and also increasing our risk of high blood pressure, weight gain, high cholesterol, heart disease, and messing with our immune systems and brain function.
Instead of reaching for salty, sugary, fatty snacks like candy and chips the next time you have a stress-induced snack attack, try one of these healthy stress relieving foods instead!
1) Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like spinach and kale are high in folate, which helps to stimulate dopamine to boost your mood and alleviate feelings of stress. They’re also high in magnesium, which improves your body’s reaction to stress by regulating your cortisol levels. If you’re craving something with crunch, try snack like kale chips to get the stress-busting benefits of kale with the satisfying crunch of chips.
Heart-healthy salmon is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which have natural anti-inflammatory properties that help to regulate and soothe stress hormones. Omega-3s also help to stimulate the release of serotonin, a feel-good hormone which helps to mitigate feelings of anxiety. If you’re not a fan of fish, try adding a Salmon Fish Oil supplement to your diet.
Nuts are packed with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which help to relieve stress. Cashews and walnuts have the added bonus of containing tryptophan (also found in milk) which helps to stimulate mood-boosting serotonin. And the repetitive motion of de-shelling and eating nuts like pistachios has been shown to promote relaxation (just like other repetitive movements like knitting).
If you crave carbs during times of stress, you don’t have to fight it! Carbs are important parts of our diet, and complex carbs like oatmeal are filling and provide stable, longer-lasting energy without spiking blood sugar. Oatmeal also boosts serotonin to help improve your mood and decrease stress.
All berries contain tons of stress-busting Vitamin C, but blueberries are a stress relieving powerhouse! They’re full of antioxidant to combat the effects of stress hormones like cortisol on or bodies, and they help to fight free radicals that damage cells.
6) Dark Chocolate
If you’re like me, stress = chocolate cravings! Satisfy that craving while giving your body a boost by opting for an antioxidant-rich dark chocolate bar. Chocolate has been shown to cause feelings of euphoria and reduce the levels of cortisol in the body. Research has also suggested that dark chocolate helps to improve insulin sensitivity, boost your mood, and fight high blood pressure. Make sure to reach for a bar that’s at least 65% cocoa to get al the benefits that dark chocolate has to offer.
Is there anything more calming than a warm cup of tea? It’s like comfort in a cup. If you need a dose of focus along with your stress-relief, reach for antioxidant rich green tea. It’ll give you a brain-boosting caffeine kick while helping to keep you calm. To wind down after a stressful day, try a cup of soothing, anxiety-reducing chamomile tea.
What are your tips for combatting stress?