We all have stressful days at work or at home. The to-do list never seems to get shorter and there are many deadlines to meet – we know. During times of stress, we often just grab a slice of pizza or some other unhealthy fast food. Seriously, who has time to cook something healthy?
Studies have shown that your diet can influence your personal stress level. Therefore, eating smart can help you relax and deal better with hectic situations. The following five foods have earned the label “brain food”.
Nuts, and walnuts, in particular, are a real power food and the ideal snack when you are stressed. Walnuts have many health benefits: they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce the risk of depression. Walnuts also contain tryptophan. This amino acid is used in the production of the “feel-good hormone” serotonin. Eating a handful of nuts a day is a simple way to improve your mood. And people who are happy tend to be less stressed. You can enjoy them as a snack, but you can also sprinkle them over your salad or your breakfast oatmeal.
And speaking of oatmeal… it’s much more than just the perfect breakfast for runners. If you have a busy day of meetings ahead of you, then a bowl of oatmeal is just what you need. Oatmeal is packed with fiber, which causes blood sugar levels to rise slowly and steadily rather than spiking. This means that oatmeal can keep you feeling satisfied until your lunch break.
3. GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES
When you don’t have much time for lunch, it’s really tempting to just get a pizza or burger delivered. But next time try eating a salad. Why? Green leafy vegetables like spinach contain plenty of folic acid. Your body needs this B vitamin to build the neurotransmitter dopamine, which can help relieve and ease symptoms of depression. Also, a light salad won’t sit heavy in your stomach like a greasy burger. You’ll feel more energized in the afternoon and cope with stressful situations better.
How do you feel about blueberries? The deep purple fruit is especially high in anthocyanins (antioxidants). These have been found to have many benefits for your health, especially in terms of stress relief. Blueberries also contain vitamin C, which boosts your immune system. Fact: people who are stressed tend to be sick more often. Can’t find fresh blueberries at the supermarket? Then use frozen blueberries and mix them in with your warm oatmeal.
5. DARK CHOCOLATE
Ever heard the saying, “A piece of chocolate a day, keeps the doctor away”? There actually seems to be some truth to this, at least in terms of dark chocolate. The polyphenols (phytochemicals) contained in cocoa beans are shown to reduce the level of stress hormones (especially cortisol) in your blood. So the next time you are up to your neck in work, enjoy the sensation of a piece of dark chocolate (minimum 70% cacao) melting in your mouth.
IN A NUTSHELL:
If your daily life is stressful and chaotic right now, try increasing your intake of these 5 foods for stress relief. It’s a positive twist to stress eating!