When your schedule is packed and your stress-levels high, healthy eating can seem like just another task on a never-ending list. But rather than a source of stress, making an effort to eat good, nutritious foods can actually be a very real part of the solution. In fact, certain foods can help prepare your body to combat the stress you face. So, what should I eat?
Leafy Green Veggies
Vegetables that are green and leafy (think spinach) contain folate, a vitamin that produces dopamine, which in turn stimulates pleasure centers in your brain. Choose these nutrient-packed vegetables for the potential to be calmer, happier, and, of course, healthier.
Tryptophan helps produce serotonin (a chemical that regulates hunger and a feeling of well-being) and leaves you feeling calm. Look for it in nuts, seeds, tofu, fish, lentils, oats, beans, and eggs.
Don’t ignore those carb cravings in moments of stress—but go for complex carbs like those in oatmeal to boost your brain’s serotonin production without the blood sugar spike of simple carbs.
Stress can cause increased release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids can help combat the negative effects of these hormones—turn to salmon for a tasty helping of omega-3s.
You get stressed, you get sick, and then you get more stressed. Stop the cycle with antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries to boost your immune system! Matcha is also a great source of antioxidants.
A little bit of dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more) can reduce levels of stress hormones like cortisol, and the antioxidants it contains can lower blood pressure and improve circulation. The taste doesn’t hurt either :)
Vitamin D is one of the important vitamins for combating stress; people with sufficient levels may be less at risk for panic disorders and depression. Find this crucial vitamin in fortified milk, salmon, egg yolks, and fortified cereals.
Found in seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, and flaxseed), leafy greens, yogurt, nuts, and fish, magnesium may help regulate emotions and fight off depression, irritability, and fatigue.
Reach for cashews to get your daily dose of zinc, a mineral that has been shown to help reduce anxiety, especially if you have a deficiency. Even if you’re good on zinc, cashews are still a great snack for their omega-3s and protein content.
Matcha is full of L-theanine, an amino acid that stimulates the production of alpha wave activity in the brain, which results in a state of calm alertness. This duality of L-Theanine naturally promotes relaxation while heightening concentration. The amino acid is also known to reduce anxiety and enhance mood. So sip up & zen out!