When feeling stressed out and anxious, people often reach for vending machine junk food, huge, sugary coffee drinks, or head for the drive through of the nearest fast food joint. That is the absolute worse thing you can do because highly processed, high fat, sugar-loaded foods can actually increase your stress levels. Learn to easily reduce this by eating foods that reduce stress. This simple change can greatly improve your health.
Caffeine found in coffee, sodas and energy drinks are a stress bomb. The caffeine stimulates your nervous system, which responds by flooding your body with cortisol. The sugar in highly processed foods and drinks sends your blood glucose levels soaring, which causes more cortisol to start zipping through your body.
Sugar can have another wicked effect on the body by shutting down the adrenal medulla, the adrenal gland that helps your body cope with emotional and physical stress.
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Next time you are feeling tension or a little anxious, head off a full blown stress mess by avoiding the vending machine or trendy coffee shop and selecting foods that reduce stress.
Fruits and Vegetables
Asparagus - rich in folate, B vitamins in asparagus convert to folic acid and have a calming effect on the nervous system
Swiss chard – full of magnesium, chard can help the body balance cortisol levels in the body.
Bell Peppers – especially red, orange or yellow in color, these stress busters are rich in vitamin C, which helps produce neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, the feel good hormones
Spinach – rich in folate, spinach also contains iron and helps with keeping your immune system strong
Berries – berries are ideal foods that reduce stress, as they are full of the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that will give you a natural energy boost without an ugly sugar crash
Avocados –their creamy texture is a great source of heart healthy fat that keeps you energized and feeling full with vitamins and minerals to boot
Oranges – have vitamin C, folate and vitamin B6, all nutrients that help elevate your mood and keep you calm and relaxed
Dried apricots- they are rich in magnesium, which helps keep cortisol levels in check
Fruits and vegetables will boost your mood by providing hydration and nutrients that won’t send blood sugar levels soaring only to crash in about an hour. The filling fiber staves off hunger so you can maintain focus and manage problems without sending you running for the nearest vending machine.
Additional Foods that Reduce Stress
Many other foods can help you manage stress and keep cortisol levels in check. Avoid fast food burgers and fries in favor of salmon, lean chicken or lamb, all of which have calming B vitamins.
Bread labeled multi-grain does not always contain whole grains and can cause your glucose levels to rise dramatically. Optimally, go for the gluten free grains like quinoa, millet, or rye because gluten is known to stimulate cortisol secretions in the body.
If you want to sweeten your green or chamomile tea, two natural stress-reducing beverages, reach for xylitol of stevia based sweeteners instead of chemical based ones.
Chocolate is actually one of the best foods that reduce stress. It can actually help you reduce your stress levels. A mere ounce of the dark organic kind provides potent antioxidants to help the body fight off stress damage.
Food for Combat
In the war on stress choose your weapons wisely. Highly processed, sugary caffeinated drinks and foods that are low in fiber but high in white sugar calories are your enemies. They cannot be counted on to save you from a stress meltdown and are traitors once inside the body.
Instead, call a truce: go au natural. No, not naked, but with foods in their most natural state like raw fruits and vegetables.
Nuts like almonds and cashews can help calm cravings and relieve stress, so keep a small pack of them around with an ounce of dark chocolate and you’ll stay cool as cucumber.