I f you pay more attention to how you feel when you feel that way and the things you’re doing, you might find that certain feelings are linked to what (and how much) you eat. It is simply astounding how much food impacts every aspect of our lives. Healthy eating to lower stress isn’t all there is; it’s about what you eat daily and how that affects your daily moods. While it may sound very appealing to binge on junk food when you’re upset, that might worsen how you feel. While obviously, it does differ from person to person in specifics, this is how you can use healthy eating to lower stress.
Do you often find yourself reaching for warm drinks, soups, or more filling foods like pasta when you’re upset? That has a reason for it. Let’s talk about warm foods first.
Our mind associates warm drinks like heavy milk coffee, and hot chocolate with feelings of comfort and safety when we have these drinks (usually winter). It’s the same with warm oatmeals and soups. Having such foods helps your brain release a calming chemical called serotonin in your brain, making you feel more relaxed when stressed and even happier.
The other option is complex carbs. The urge for junk food is, once more, your brain seeking comfort. Carbs are generally linked with serotonin levels, making us feel better upon consumption. However, the relaxing effect is taken away by the vast amounts of oils and fats in them that can end up making you feel worse. Instead, try making a nice bowl of pasta or bread-based dishes. These carbs take longer to digest and make you feel fuller and release serotonin in your brain.
Vitamin C is an absolute gold mine of benefits and tastes absolutely divine. Having oranges or vitamin C supplements can help you strengthen your immune system, making you more resistant to cases of flu and common colds, as well as lower cortisol levels. When released in excess amounts, cortisol is a stress hormone that can worsen stress and lead to fatigue, headaches, and worry. Having a quick orange before starting a stressful task is proven to lower cortisol levels which helps you keep more focused and relaxed. This is why it makes such an ideal workplace lunch component and makes sense why ‘The Orange’ was written!
Certain side effects of high stress levels include long-lasting fatigue, headaches, and joint pain. These are also the side effects of consuming too little magnesium. While it doesn’t hit as close as vitamin C or complex carbs, having a nice helping of spinach (or any other leafy greens) in your food is bound to get rid of that splitting headache you’ve had since you came home. The perfect stress meal is a nice bowl of spinach and tomato pasta; bonus points if you make it yourself since the act of creating things from scratch is very therapeutic and linked to serotonin levels in your head.
Omega-3 fatty acids are once again those minerals you won't believe exist. Try to incorporate naturally fatty fish in your diet, having them at least twice a week. This is because they are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce surges in stress hormones, keep serotonin and dopamine levels in check, reduce cholesterol and help your blood circulation. This, in turn, offers excellent protection against heart disease, heightened stress levels, and can even help you feel better after long surges of melancholy or numbness. It even helps with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and makes it a lot easier to deal with. A good amount to aim for is 3.5 ounces of fatty fish twice a week.
Nuts, especially pistachios, are going to be your best friend when trying healthy eating to reduce stress. These help control cholesterol, lower stress levels, ease inflammation in the heart’s arteries, and protect you from diabetes.
In conclusion, these five habits can help you manage stress more effectively. However, it is essential to remember that eating and its impacts on the brain isn’t the same for everyone, so it’s important to listen to your body to figure out what you need.