To all of you workaholics: stress is not a good thing. In fact, stress is one of the leading causes of both minor illnesses and chronic disease. But before you start stressing about your stress, know that there is a simple way to fight it each and every day.
By introducing and regularly including the following five foods into your diet, you will be fueling your body to fight unnecessary anxiety. The best part is that you don’t have to stress about eating stress-free! Most of these foods are grab-on-the-go, affordable, and guilt-free.
Almonds are nature’s potato chips. But instead of being loaded with saturated fat and a lifetime’s recommendation of salt, these crunchy treats are packed with vitamin E (for powering your immune system), vitamin B2 (for combating bad moods), zinc, magnesium, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. As almonds are high in fat (though healthy unsaturated fats), try to stick to a ¼ cup serving per day. If you pack a PB&J for lunch every day, why not switch to almond butter on your favorite sandwich. An excellent choice is Trader Joe’s preservative-free Almond Butter with Roasted Flax Seeds. The added bonus: the fatty acids in flax seeds can assist with reducing depression.
Ever heard about good things coming in small packages? Blueberries are no exception to the rule. In addition to being rich in stress-fighting antioxidants and energizing vitamin C, the high-fiber content of blueberries can assist with stress-induced cramps and constipation.
Is your weakness after a rough day at work Ben and Jerry’s ice cream? Unfortunately, after polishing off a pint, you may instantly crash from the high sugar content and become even more stressed about the calories. Sorry ladies, stress isn’t like a new boyfriend; you can’t get over one with another. Next time you need that creamy, fatty texture reach for a deliciously ripe avocado. An average avocado offers more depression-fighting potassium than a medium-sized banana. The vitamin B6 found in avocados can alleviate PMS symptoms, and vitamins A and E keep your skin clear – talk about stress relief!
4. Complex Carbohydrates
Like exercise and dark chocolate, carbohydrates release serotonin, the happy hormone. Complex carbohydrates, like wheat pasta, brown rice, and high fiber oatmeal, are absorbed more slowly in your system than simple carbs, such as white bread, sugary cereals, and the processed stuff that only comes to life in the microwave. Since complex carbs take longer to digest, the serotonin lasts longer in your system. If you have trouble sleeping, a small portion of complex carbs can ease you right to sleep – just don’t overdo it, as a belly full of sugar can keep you up even longer. For quick fixes, author of Food & Mood, Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, suggests adding a swirl of jam to your 100% whole wheat bread.
5. Because sometimes being healthy just isn’t enough…
Yes, being healthy is your best option, but it isn’t necessarily the option you’re always going to choose. Whether it’s fast food delivery, gummy peaches, a whole bag of pita chips, or frosting from a jar, sometimes you just have to give in to the urge to splurge. While this list could have included fish, bananas, beef, or dairy as top 5 stress relieving foods (which they all are), not worrying too much about the way you eat or the occasional splurge is the best stress relief you can give yourself. Sesame chicken, anyone?