Have you craved junk food when you got stressed out? I have! Chances are 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. Finding comfort in a fatty meal, bag of chips, bottles of beer or wine when we’ve had a rough day isn’t a healthy or permanent solution. Instead, these 10 foods help reduce anxiety.
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 energetic, and more lethargic. In some cases less able to concentrate and focus. All of this can lead to even more stress.
Think of comfort, fatty foods like this…
Your car is about to run out of gas and it takes Regular fuel. Are you going to fill it up with diesel fuel? No, because your car will not drive at its optimal performance. This is the same thing that happens to your body when you fuel it with non-optimal food. Here are some food tips to reduce anxiety with food.
Foods that Fight Anxiety
Have you been feeling more stressed out than usual lately? It happens to us all! That is why it is important to know which foods are the best choice. When you eat a healthy, balanced whole foods diet, your body will fight stress and anxiety from the inside out.
Fill up on whole grains, leafy vegetables, and lean proteins. These foods ensure that your body gets the optimum amounts of nutrients to fight both physical and mental health problems. Choosing these stress-busting foods will help to heal and calm your mind permanently, rather than providing a temporary fix.
The 10 Best Anxiety-Fighting Foods
- Avocados – Avocados are one of my favorite fruits. Yup, it is a fruit! It has a creamy texture that can be eaten so many different ways. Raw, add to sauces, dressings, or dips, and add to a smoothie. I eat avocados to supplement healthy fat in my diet. They are nutrient-dense and have high levels of vitamin E, folate, beta-carotene, and glutathione. Glutathione blocks the intestinal absorption of certain fats that cause oxidative damage. All these help stress-proof your body.
- Blueberries – Snack on blueberries instead of chips if you’re feeling stressed out. Blueberries are a superfood with the highest levels of antioxidants. The health benefits include sharper cognition, better focus, and a clearer mind.
- Chamomile Tea – Chamomile tea has long been used as a natural bedtime soother. In fact, clinical trials have found chamomile tea reduces anxiety symptoms. Drinks that are high in sugars and caffeine (coffee, energy drinks, soda, sweet tea), increase stress levels.
- Chocolate – Although it’s usually seen as an unhealthy treat, there is a link between chocolate and our mood. Studies have shown that eating chocolate can actually make you happier. Just eat it in moderation and don’t binge on it when you are super stressed. When you eat it in moderation and as part of a healthy and balanced diet it can help combat stress. Did you know that dark chocolate is the best? It contains more flavonols and polyphenols, two hugely important antioxidants which can help combat stress, more than many fruit juices.
- Grass-Fed Beef – Grass-fed beef is kinder to the planet and to animals, but it’s also better for people. Organic grass-fed beef costs more, but it has a huge range of antioxidants, omega-3, beta-carotene, and Vitamins C and E. These can help your body to fight stress and anxiety.
- Oatmeal – Oatmeal is a whole, complex carb, gluten-free grain. I love how filling is as well as healthy properties to actually make you feel better from the inside out. When you eat oatmeal, you produce higher levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin. Serotonin helps you to feel calmer and less stressed and sharper throughout the morning.
- Walnuts –These are a great, healthy snack. The sweet taste of walnuts are great for snacks, and salads, or add them to a coffee cake.
- Pistachios – Pistachios are another great food for snacking on. They can also help to combat stress and anxiety in the long term. If you eat two small, snack-size portions of pistachios per day, it can lower vascular constriction when you are stressed. This will put less pressure on your heart by further dilating your arteries. Not to mention, shelling pistachios can actually be quite calming (and addictive)!
- Green Leafy Vegetables – Leafy, green vegetables should be a part of everyone’s diet. They help to combat stress and have so many nutrients and antioxidants. That helps you to fight off disease and leave your body feeling healthier and more energized. Dark leafy greens, for example, spinach, are especially rich in folate, which helps produce serotonin, the ‘feel-good’ chemical. Making leafy greens a part of your diet will help you to feel happier and less stressed out overall.
- Fermented foods – Eating fermented foods (yogurt or kimchee) can help to keep your gut healthy. This will actually help to improve your mental health and reduce stress levels. It has good bacteria which effect transmits positive mood and behavior regulating signals to your brain. Plus it is great for your gut.
Putting Together a Healthy Meal to Reduce Anxiety
Planning your meals wisely is key! This will keep you healthy and mentally strong and being able to best manage your levels of stress.
Keep fresh berries, dark chocolate, yogurt, walnuts, pistachios, and a fruit smoothie with avocado and leafy greens in your kitchen. These will help you to feel better in both the short and long term when it comes to stress. By eating healthy, whole foods, that are naturally gluten-free you will combat stress in the long run.
Make a meal plan so you have a plan for what you will eat for the week. Toss your junk food so it is out of sight and out of mind. Have these stress-busting foods in your kitchen to make meals and snacks when you’re feeling like stress-eating. Your meals should include lean proteins and leafy green vegetables. This will not only make you feel healthier overall but can improve your mental health and stress levels.
Healthy, Stress-Busting Food Plan
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 gluten-free pasta salad filled 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! 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!