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  • Jill Inforzato

Eating for Holiday Stress

Eat Your Stress Goodbye - Stress Reducing Diet

When you’re stressed out, the foods that you’re turning to are most likely going to

be traditional ‘comfort’ foods – think big meals, take-out, fatty foods, sweet foods,

and alcohol.

Let’s face it – we’ve all found some comfort in a tasty meal and a bottle of beer or glass of wine when we’ve been stressed out or upset about something. However, this isn’t a good permanent solution. When you’re turning to unhealthy foods you can feel better temporarily, but in the long run, you will feel worse.

When your body isn’t getting the right nutrition, you can begin to feel less energetic, more lethargic, and in some cases less able to concentrate and focus. All of this can lead to even more stress.When you’re turning to unhealthy foods you can feel better temporarily, but in the long run, you will feel worse.

When your body isn’t getting the right nutrition, you can begin to feel less energetic, more lethargic, and in some cases less able to concentrate and focus. All of this can lead to even more stress.

Foods that Fight Stress

If you’ve been feeling more stressed out than usual lately, it’s important to know which foods are best to choose and which to avoid when it comes to combating stress and helping you to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety.

The best way to fight stress is to have a healthy, balanced diet which includes a moderate amount of each of the different food groups. Some of the best stress- Fighting foods include:

Avocado – Avocados are a creamy and versatile fruit which can be eaten in a

range of different ways whether you enjoy it raw, made into sauces, dressings

and dips, or in a smoothie. These nutrient-dense fruits have the properties to

stress-proof your body, thanks to their high glutathione content which

speci􀁽cally blocks the intestinal absorption of certain fats which cause

oxidative damage. Avocados also contain higher levels of vitamin E, folate,

and beta-carotene than any other fruit, which boosts their stress-busting

properties. However, be careful with portion control when eating avocado, as

it is high in fat.

Blueberries – If you’re feeling stressed out and reaching for the snacks,

swapping chocolate or chips for one of the best superfoods is a great way to

help you deal with your stress levels and achieve a higher level of calm.

Blueberries have some of the highest levels of antioxidants, especially anthocyanin,

which means that this berry has been linked to a wide range of

health bene􀁽ts including sharper cognition, better focus, and a clearer mind

– all of which can help you to better deal with stress.

Chamomile Tea – Of course, it’s not all about what you’re eating when it

comes to managing stress; what you’re drinking can also alleviate or worsen

the stress you're feeling. Drinking liquids which are high in sugars and

caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks or soda, can actually increase your

stress levels if consumed regularly. Chamomile tea has long been used as a

natural bedtime soother, and it has also been used in clinical trials, which

determined that chamomile tea is effective in reducing the symptoms of

generalized anxiety disorder.

Chocolate – Although it’s usually seen as an unhealthy treat, there is an

undeniable link between chocolate and our mood. Studies have shown that

eating chocolate can actually make you happier. However, that doesn’t mean

that you can start munching on chocolate bars every time you're stressed out

– chocolate works best as a de-stressor when eaten in moderation and as

part of a healthy and balanced diet. Dark chocolate in particular is best for

you, as it contains more 􀁾avonols and polyphenols, two hugely important

antioxidants which can help combat stress, more than many fruit juices.

Beef – Grass-fed beef is not only kinder to the planet and to animals, it’s also

good for people, too. Grass-fed beef has a huge range of antioxidants,

including beta-carotene and Vit-amins C and E, which can help your body to

􀁽ght stress and anxiety. If you’re looking for more reasons to spend a little

more money on organic, grass-fed beef, it’s also lower in fat than grain-fed

beef whilst being higher in omega-3.

Oatmeal – Oatmeal is great in that it can be a 􀁽lling comfort food, but also

has a large number of healthy properties to actually make you feel better

from the inside out. A complex carbohydrate, eating oatmeal causes your

brain to produce higher levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin, helping

you to feel calmer and less stressed. Studies have shown that kids who

choose oatmeal for breakfast tend to be much sharper throughout the

morning in school compared to kids who had alternative morning meals.

Walnuts – If you’re looking for a healthy snacking option which will help you

to stay better in control of your stress levels, walnuts are a great choice. There

is no denying the sweet, pleasant 􀁾avor of walnuts and they can be a tasty

snack for in-between meals or as part of a desert. A versatile nut, walnuts are

great for salads, or add them to a sweet treat such as coffee and walnut cake.

Pistachios – another food which is great for snacking on and can also help to

combat stress and anxiety in the long term is pistachios. Studies have found

that simply eating two small, snack-size portions of pistachios per day can

lower vascular constriction when you are stressed, putting less pressure on

your heart by further dilating your arteries. Along with this, the rhythmic,

repetitive act of shelling pistachios can actually be quite therapeutic!

Green Leafy Vegetables – leafy, green vegetables should be a pivotal part of

anyone’s diet. Along with helping to combat stress, leafy greens are full of

nutrients and antioxidants which help to 􀁽ght off disease and leave your

body feeling healthier and more energized. Dark leafy greens, for example

spinach, are especially good for you since they are rich in folate, which helps

your body to produce more mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as

serotonin, which is a ‘feel-good’ chemical. Making leafy greens a part of your

diet will help you to feel happier and less stressed out overall.

Fermented foods – last but not least, eating fermented foods such as yogurt

can help to keep your gut healthy, which actually in turn will help to improve

your mental health and reduce stress levels. The bene􀁽cial bacteria which

are found in fermented foods such as yogurt actually have a direct effect on

your brain chemistry and transmit positive mood and behavior regulating

signals to your brain via the vagus nerve.

A good example of a healthy, stress-busting menu would be:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries or a fruit smoothie with avocado and berries

Mid-morning snack: Natural yogurt with fruit or a handful of pistachio nuts

Lunch: A whole-grain pasta salad 􀁽lled with plenty of leafy greens

Afternoon snack: Dark chocolate

Dinner: Grass-fed beef with vegetables

Before bed: Chamomile tea

Of course, you don’t need to stick to this menu – but it gives you a good idea!

Bottom line, if you are having a smoothie, a bowl of brothy vegetble soup and a salad every day, you are off to a great start on handling stress eating.

Remember to exercise good portion control when eating foods such as nuts,

chocolate, yogurt or avocado! As the saying goes, you are what you eat – so make

sure that first and foremost, you’re filling yourself up with foods which are good for

your mental health.

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