It’s no secret that what you eat affects your physical health, but did you know that food also plays an important role in how your body handles stress?
Most of us turn to food when we feel stressed . Unfortunately, the foods we indulge in are typically sugary and processed – definitely not the kind of stuff considered healthy. And research has found that these types of foods negatively affect your body when it comes to dealing with stress, making the whole process a vicious cycle.
The trick to managing your stress could be as simple as eating smarter. Eating the right foods could help you handle stress better, as well as improve your mood and the way you feel overall. Follow these tips to keep your stress under wraps.
Limit Refined Carbs And Sugar
In a study published in Pediatrics a few years back, researchers found that participants who ate refined instant oatmeal for breakfast experienced a blood sugar rush followed by a crash a few hours later. The other participants, some of whom ate high-fiber steel cut oats and others who ate protein-rich eggs, didn’t experience the same crash.
When blood sugar levels peak and drop, the stress hormone epinephrine skyrockets. This makes you feel stressed more easily, so it’s important for your emotional and mental health to avoid or limit sugary foods and foods made with refined carbs. Instead, grab foods that are low on the glycemic index scale like stone-ground whole wheat, non-starchy vegetables, peas and legumes, and fruit.
Get Plenty Of Omega-3s
Studies show that damage caused by chronic stress can be prevented with the inclusion of omega-3s in the foods we eat. On top of being great for stress, omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and may lower your risk of diseases like heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for optimal health, but they aren't produced inside your body. You have to get them from food. The best source for omega-3s is seafood, specifically salmon and tuna. Experts recommend eating fish twice a week.
Don’t like the taste of fish? If you hate fish or if you can't eat it, you can get omega-3s from other foods as well. Try adding chia seeds, flaxseeds and nut butters to your regular diet. And remember to always include other nutrient-rich foods like as greens and eggs in your diet to help reduce stress levels.
Indulge In Chocolate
It’s natural to crave junk food when you’re stressed. But who says chocolate is always bad for you? Instead of binging on cookies, ice cream or candy, try dark chocolate when sweet cravings hit. Health experts suggest that dark chocolate can have a significant physiological effect on your mood. The best kinds of dark chocolate are the bars with higher cocoa percentages and less sugar. If you grew up on sweet milk chocolate, you might find the taste of dark chocolate too bitter. If that's the case, try melting the bars down and dipping strawberries or pretzels into it.
If you want to keep your mood up and reduce stress, do this one thing: Eat smarter. Avoid junk food and overly processed carbs, get plenty of vitamins and nutrients, and splurge with dark chocolate. This will help you experience a calmer, more peaceful life. To learn about other ways to manage stress and fuel your body, give me a call.
Next time you hit the grocery store, pick up these ten healthy foods. They're perfect for healthy recipes and pre-workout snacks to get you through the day.