You probably have your favorite brand of chips or pint of ice cream that you love to reach on those days where stress levels supersede the norm. It is only natural that we use food to quiet those feelings of stress and anxiety in our lives. Unfortunately, our penchant for comfort foods may not be the cure to a bad day after all. In fact, what you put into your mouth may be making your stress levels worse.
Stress triggers multiple physiological responses in our body, including the release or decrease in the production of stress hormones and mood stabilizing chemicals. When this imbalance occurs, our stress levels can surge off charts of what is deemed to be an average day.
Believe it or not, there are certain foods you should avoid because they can, in fact, worsen your stress levels.
Healthy Foods for Stress
While your inclination might be to reach for something soothing, your ultimate goal must be to keep it healthy. Here are a few tips to remember.
Choose Complex Carbs
Complex carbs like whole-grains like oatmeal are an excellent choice for busting stress cravings. This warm, comfort food triggers the brain to release serotonin which can ultimately help to control one’s mood.
Steer clear of high-fat foods, caffeine, and simple carbs like soda and sugar. These foods may give you good vibes initially, but those sugar spikes also translate to serotonin spikes that are not long-lasting. These sudden drops translate to moodiness in the average person.
Alcohol can be another source of stress hormone exacerbation. While wine may feel relaxing, you must remember that moderation is indeed vital. Researchers found that alcohol can leave us feeling stressed for a more extended period.
Vitamins and minerals offer a wealth of hidden benefits. Studies show that vitamin C may curb stress hormones which can be beneficial to regulating stress hormones.
Stock up on your spinach, avocados, bananas, cabbage, and salmon. You are going to want to have a natural source of magnesium at your fingertips. Magnesium not only fights against symptoms of stress but also common side effects that accompany stress like headaches and fatigue. Magnesium has the power to suppress the production of stress hormones in our body which are known to elevate feelings of anxiety and deliver some side effects such as obesity, fatigue, and moodiness.
If you have a sweet tooth, you will love this next option for stress relief. Dark chocolate may be a high-calorie food, but this healthy choice in food can assist in the quest to regulate stress levels. Health magazine points out that the antioxidants in cocoa help our blood vessels to relax, thus lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. Also, chocolate produces a fantastic feeling of euphoria, thus making it a super mood stabilizer.
Grab a Handful of Nuts
Check your pantry. Hopefully, you have a ready supply of pistachios, almonds, cashews, and other varieties of nuts. It turns out that these tiny little morsels may hold the cure to your bad day. Experts credit nuts with improving serotonin levels which play a significant role in how it is we feel on a given day of the week. Too little serotonin and we can feel like we’re dragging, living way down in the dumps. Adequate serotonin levels can have a positive effect on our moods, boosting how good it is we feel.
Eat Fatty Fish
Omega-3 fatty acids which are available in foods like salmon or tuna can help you reduce the chances of an unwanted stress hormone surge and may prove useful in your fight against other conditions like depression and heart disease.
Think about your food choices next time you are experiencing stress. While an occasional slip is permissible, you have a few options to keep you honest and your stress level under control next time the train decides to jump the rails.