Mitigating Stress: How Food Can Reduce Your Stress

Everyday stress can easily pile up, but today’s circumstances have made it much easier to feel more overwhelmed than ever. In fact, studies reveal that 88% of Americans are stressed out due to the uncertainty clouding over us.

Even though stress is a normal part of life, we owe it to ourselves to learn how to combat it — and one of the best ways to do this is to eat right. Though many people know that stress causes you to eat more and in unhealthy ways, it’s possible to reverse this and use healthy food to reduce stress. To help you eat right amidst these stressful times, here’s what you need to know:

The Best Nutrients to Beat Stress

Food serves as a source of nourishment. And leaning on this fact will help you identify which ones can help increase and decrease your stress levels. Case in point: Our post on how to ‘Boost Your Mental Health With Fruits And Vegetables’ notes that probiotics (otherwise known as ‘good bacteria’) positively influences your mental outlook, while soothing your anxiety.

Vitamin C is also a great stress-reliever, as it helps reduce levels of cortisol (a major stress hormone) and lower your blood pressure. Another helpful nutrient is omega-3 fatty acids because they can help relieve stress symptoms. Plus, Dr. David Mischoulon writes on Harvard Health that its anti-inflammatory properties can even help alleviate depression. Overall, knowing the right nutrients will help you build a strong foundation for healthy eating against stress.

That said, here are some food sources that you should consider incorporating into your diet to help fight stress:

Probiotics
• Lentils
• Banana
• Oats
• Asparagus

Vitamin C
• Sweet potatoes
• Broccoli
• Guava
• Citrus fruits

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
• Salmon
• Walnuts
• Flax-seed
• Soybeans

Essential Eating Habits to Beat Stress

A successful diet to combat stress isn’t complete without proper eating habits. Practicing these everyday will help you stay on the right track with your diet and stress.

Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating calls you to be in the moment when you eat — from paying attention to your food, to acknowledging your physical and emotional sensations. It’s all the more important to practice mindful eating today, when most people are working from home and the lines between work and your personal life can be easily blurred. Resilience coach L. Barbour told Marcus that it’s important to focus exclusively on eating during lunchtime, instead of looking at your phone or trying to multitask. This way, you can truly enjoy your food and be more careful about the dietary choices you make. After all, it’s very easy to subsist on coffee and beef jerky if you’re stuck to a screen all the time! Remember that what and how you eat can affect your mood and cognitive performance, so be sure to give yourself time to thoroughly enjoy your meals.

Don’t Skip Meals

As we’ve mentioned, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life — especially during this point in time. And trying to keep up with everything makes it much easier for you to skip meals. Unfortunately, ignoring your meals can result in even higher levels of stress. Psychiatrist Steven Gans explains on Very Well Mind that your blood sugar levels start to drop when you miss out on a meal. This, in turn, causes you to become irritable and tense, while also heightening your anxiety. To this end, it’s essential to follow a healthy eating schedule. If you’re not feeling too hungry during a certain mealtime, you can opt for a filling snack like a protein bar or a green smoothie.

Cook for Yourself

While ordering in from food delivery services may seem like a convenient option, it’s better to use the time you have on your hands by cooking your own meals. Cooking can do wonders for your stress levels as it helps you get in tune with your senses — from therapeutic techniques like stirring and rhythmic chopping, to smelling the aroma of your ingredients. Not to mention, there’s a special sense of accomplishment after preparing your own meals. If you’re pressed for time on weekdays, a good practice is to meal prep during the weekends.

 

Words by Mona Presson
Written exclusively for nutrifusion.com