Healthy Foods to Soothe and Manage Stress – Part I

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This is the first in two-part series which will introduce you to some of the foods that can help you alleviate and tackle stress. Chances are, when you think of stress-eating, you think of donuts, chocolate bars, and ice cream. If so, you aren’t alone! When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. In addition to increasing your appetite, cortisol increases your cravings for sugary and fatty foods. While sweet snacks may make you feel good temporarily, these foods aren’t actually beneficial in managing your stress levels in the long run. They don’t offer sustainable nutrients for the body to combat physical and emotional stress. Here are five foods that will do that instead.

Eggs

One of the main reasons why eggs are a staple breakfast food is their powerful nutrient profile. Packed with vitamins, omega-3s, and amino acids, eggs are perfect for starting the day right. One of the stress-fighting amino acids in eggs is tryptophan, which helps in the creation of serotonin. This essential neurotransmitter plays a key part in regulating your mood, well-being, and happiness. The best part is that there are many ways to cook eggs and make breakfast fun while fulfilling your stress management needs.

Blueberries

Not only are blueberries low in calories, they also contain the highest number of antioxidants compared to other fruits and vegetables. On top of that, blueberries pack a big punch of vitamin C. When you’re stressed, your body needs antioxidants and vitamin C in order to repair and protect its cells. Blueberries are perfect on their own but can be paired with probiotic-rich yogurt for extra stress and anxiety relief.

Yogurt

What a lot of people might not know is that gut health has a direct correlation to mental health. The bacteria in your gut produce molecules like serotonin, which ultimately influences your mood. Yogurt is an excellent source of probiotic bacteria, which helps keep your gut healthy and is shown to improve anxiety, depression, and overall stress. Tip: opt for plain yogurt and throw in your favourite fruits and nuts for added flavour. Flavoured yogurts at the grocery store are typically high in processed sugar, which can lead to a spike in stress and anxiety levels.

Whole Grain Bread

Next time you pack a sandwich for lunch, consider using whole grain bread. Unlike white and refined bread, whole grain bread is a complex carb that is loaded with various nutrients. Moreover, whole grains reduce inflammation, which, in turn, reduces cortisol (which, again, is your body’s main stress hormone). Going further, try incorporating other whole grains into your diet like whole grain pasta, noodles, or crackers.

Bananas

Bananas are an excellent mid-day snack. In addition to being rich in potassium, bananas contain dopamine and magnesium, which are mood-boosting chemicals in your brain that decrease when you’re stressed. Even further, the vitamin B6 found in bananas helps calibrate your nervous system, which, in turn, can decrease stress and fatigue. Like eggs, bananas can be used in myriad ways: on their own, in a smoothie, or sliced on peanut butter toast.

Jericho Tadeo | Contributing Writer

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