You’ve got family coming to town, an empty fridge, your house and car are all a mess and you’re just not sure where to begin to tackle the stress — oh and you’re hungry. We’ve all been there. And while sometimes it seems like wine, coffee, convenience food and treats are the answers during times like these, there are actually some foods that can help, rather than hinder, your stressed state. Food is medicine!
Next time you find yourself having a super stressful day, try reaching for one of the following foods or drinks …
A huge salad with leafy greens and salmon.
Who wants a salad when you’re busy, right? While it may be easier to down a candy bar, if you choose instead to take a moment to slow down and eat a real meal — a salad with dark green leafy vegetables (like spinach and kale) and salmon — you’ll actually find your stressed state diminishing thanks to the valuable micronutrients in the food. The leafy veggies have magnesium, and magnesium supports energy, sleep and even hormone balance, and it’s one of the most valuable nutrients that people are often lacking— leaving the body predisposed to stress. You can also get magnesium from dark chocolate, cacao, almonds, pumpkin seeds, black beans and figs. And the salmon in your salad has omega-3s and healthy fats, to keep your mind in check, so you’re better able to handle what comes next.
A yogurt parfait with berries and nuts.
When you find yourself in a stressed state, oftentimes your immune system becomes burdened as well, which leaves you more susceptible to illness. That’s why it’s great to get in probiotics from yogurt to keep your gut healthy (promoting the right kind of bacteria), because everything starts in the gut. In the parfait, you’ll also benefit from the vitamin C in the berries and the B vitamins in the nuts, which will keep you ship shape and more able to take on the fight-or-flight stress response brewing in your body and mind. This hearty breakfast or snack will also fill you up for hours.
A huge glass of water and herbal tea.
Coffee and caffeine tend to worsen stress symptoms, so if you want to sip on a hot beverage, try herbal tea instead. Chamomile, ginger and even peppermint teas not only soothe your digestive tract and throat, but they also give you a zen feeling — without the jitters of caffeine. And of course, water, water, water all the time, because being dehydrated can make you and your system even more sensitive to the feelings of stress, so drink up.
Foods and drinks to avoid when you’re stressed
Alcohol, energy drinks, caffeine, refined sugars like cookies, pastries and chips, and all of the junk you’d find in a vending machine will do nothing to help you get through a stressful day. (Even if they may taste good and have a place as an occasional indulgence in your life, just not when you’re stressed.) Why? Because the sugars in these foods and drinks will spike your blood-sugar and leave you feeling low after the high wears off, so stick to nutritious and smart choices.
Overall, when things get tough, look to healthy food to fuel your body’s response to the stress and you’ll be more able to conquer the day.
JD Christie, ISSA Certified Personal Trainer
OWNER, FITNESS TOGETHER BELLEAIR
JD is dedicated to living a healthy and rewarding lifestyle. “I enjoy challenging each client to bring out and utilize their full potential so they can live healthier and happier lives.”