Stress and Food Choices
There is an aspect regarding managing stress that relates to food in a big way. Some stress actually originates from the foods and drinks we choose to consume. An awareness of which foods amp up your stress levels and which will pour balm on the stress waters will help you manage stress in a big way. It’s important to think about stress and food choices.
When you’re under stress, you can eat too much or too little or you can simply eat the wrong foods that actually harm you by increasing your stress levels during an already stressful episode.
The first truth to remember is that most of us crave foods that are high in sugar and fat when we’re under stress. That’s just a fact.
Let’s cut right to it and talk about some of the foods we love and are comfort foods for us but that are best avoided if you’re already under stress. Foods like ice cream, which we know is a go to… who among us hasn’t had a bad break up and ended up sitting on the couch watching the Hallmark channel with a pint of chunky monkey and crying into our ice cream?
Another food to avoid if you are stressed is coffee which does make you feel better in the sort term because it stimulates the pleasure centers in your brain. Unfortunately, it also amps you up and makes you feel more stressed.
Chinese food is a big one to avoid for so many reasons. Chinese food is loaded with bad fat and sugar, and it’s also typically high in MSG. Especially if you’re sensitive to MSG, it’s best to opt out of eating Chinese food unless you’re very specific and confident that a restaurant can accommodate a request for no MSG. MSG creates allergic reactions in a lot of people and it has been reported to range from making you stuffy, to giving you migraines, to actually triggering a seizure.
Another food to avoid is freshly pressed fruit juice. It might sound like a healthy thing to do when you’re in the mall to go to a fruit juice bar and have some fresh juice. The problem with that, to your body, juice is pure sugar. There’s no fiber and no pulp; there’s nothing to slow down the absorption of that sugar into your system. It quickly goes right to sugar. Also with juice, you’re also missing out on the vitamins and minerals you’d be getting if you were eating the whole fruit. Best to avoid freshly pressed fruit juice or fruit juice in general!
What are Some Stress-Busting Foods
Alright, stress and food choices; so which foods are actually stress-busters? Which foods will help you reduce the stress in your life and in your body?
First on our list… Complex carbohydrates like whole grain bread, whole-grain pasta and steel cut oatmeal. These are comfort foods. I can’t think of anything more comforting and warming than a bowl of hot oatmeal for breakfast on a cold morning in the winter!
As far as whole grain bread is concerned, be aware of the difference between whole wheat and whole grain. Whole wheat bread is no healthier than is white bread; it’s really just a brown colored version of white bread. You want to look for whole grains listed as the main ingredients in the bread.
Back to oatmeal; did you know it boosts your levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical? Add some roasted sliced almonds and a few fresh berries; you have a warming meal of comfort food that will stick with you, will calm you and is good for you!
Another stress busting food is the orange. We talked about how fruit juice is not a good idea because it goes right to sugar. The fiber in the whole orange slows down the absorption of that sugar. Additionally, you get the full spectrum of vitamins and benefits of the whole fruit as opposed to the simplified version of just drinking orange juice.
Also, on the stress busting side we have spinach and green leafy veggies! These are high in magnesium and have the ability to help with a headache and the fatigue associated with stress. Spinach and green leafy vegetables are very important in your diet; that includes all different kinds of lettuce, too. You can have mescaline lettuce and can enjoy one of my personal favorites which is baby butter lettuce. I love that beautiful color, texture and crunch. Arugula is awesome too and has a wonderful spicy flavor.
Speaking of arugula, here’s a pizza suggestion for you. Next time you have a pizza, skip the cheese and top the cooked pizza with some arugula. Drizzle a little balsamic vinaigrette over it. It is amazing!
Here are some other stress busters to add to your diet. Fatty fish like salmon. Choose wild fish rather than farmed fish. Black tea is also very good for you. Tea can actually lower cholesterol levels after stress, so if you’re under stress, put the kettle on and sit down for 10 or 15 minutes with a nice cup of black tea and relax!
Other stress busting foods are nuts like pistachios and almonds. They have healthy fat. In moderation, nuts are extremely good for you!
Avocados also have healthy fat and are high in potassium. You may not be aware of this, but avocados contain protein especially around the shell area right next to where the sun hits it. When you scoop an avocado, be sure to scrape next to the shell and get that dark green part of the fruit which is where the most protein is found.
These suggestions will get you started with a diet that shifts around your food choices to support a lifestyle that is less stressed. Always remember that food is medicine!
Helping You Achieve Major Wellness!
Cheryl A Major, CNWC
I’m author, health coach, and entrepreneur Cheryl A Major, and I would love to connect with you! If you’re new to the world of creating better health, both mental and physical for yourself, please check out my training on how to get gluten out of your diet. Becoming Gluten Free Me is where to check it out. Learn how gluten affects us and how to go about reducing or eliminating it from your diet. You don’t have to suffer with Celiac Disease to benefit from getting gluten out of your life!
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