March is national nutrition Month so we thought information on foods that are natural stress reducers would be helpful. Everyone experiences stress, but if you are a care-giver you need to do everything you can to alleviate it and stay healthy. We often turn to “comfort foods” and rely on fast foods because we are rushed and harried. “Comfort Foods” ease tension in the short term but the long range effects are unhealthy.
There are foods that are nutritional and good for relieving every day stress.
So, do what Mom told you and eat your vegetables. Green vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, spinach and kale are full of B vitamins that help regulate your emotions, fighting off depression and lowering anxiety. Many of them also contain magnesium which helps muscles relax.
Say you are a “meat and potatoes” person, there are still options to help ease stress. Beef, if eaten in healthy portions can be a great stress-breaking main course option. A cup of lean raw chuck or regular ground beef contains high levels of zinc and iron which work to strengthen your immune system and boost energy levels. It is also a good source of B Vitamins.
Turkey is another good choice. We all know that tryptophan makes you drowsy but Turkey also contains selenium which helps increase serotonin levels.
Potatoes are chock full of carbohydrates which help regulate anger, aggression, body temperature, mood and sleep. A baked potato can be either a tasty, healthy side dish or lightly salted and stuffed with broccoli and low-fat cheese a meal in itself.
Whole grain foods ( rice, pasta, bread) add more complex carbs to your diet and are digested more slowly which means you feel “fuller” longer.
The way you prepare food also makes a difference in how your body handles stress. Try to avoid oils with high fat contents and avoid trans-fats altogether. If you are looking for a way to add some flavor try basil. It is very versatile and has a salty flavor. Aside from the usual italian cuisine, basil also compliments chicken, turkey, salads, soups and cream sauces. A good source of vitamin A and magnesium, Basil s a natural immune system booster.
Need a night off from cooking? Try Sushi. You already know eating fish reduces stress levels but the seaweed in many sushi rolls is full of magnesium, B2 vitamins and pantothenic acid which helps regulate your adrenal gland. The adrenal gland produces several hormones which help to dictate how we handle stressful situations.
Now that we have covered dinner let’s discuss starting your day off on the right foot. There are several easy choices you can make. It should come as no surprise that fruit has antioxidants to boost your immune system and helps to lower anxiety levels. Blueberries, packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, are a wonderful choice. Papaya is a delicious source of vitamins A and C and contain folate, a nutrient shown to be a key ingredient in fighting depression.
A single bowl of cereal can be a stress reliever. Many cereals are now fortified with vitamins and minerals that help the body fight stress. Don’t forget the value of milk. When you are stressed your body uses more calcium than at other times so it is important to replenish your reserves. Another good source of calcium is cottage cheese.
Try eating an Apple instead of drinking Coffee. Apples are a natural and more efficient eye -opener and energy booster that don’t jangle your nerves. Caffeine releases extra adrenaline which only adds to stress and anxiety.
When you are on the run and need a quick snack try almonds. Almonds are powerhouses, loaded with vitamins B and E, magnesium and zinc. Caution..they also have a high fat content so don’t go wild.
You don’t have to forgo all “comfort foods” just be sensible and keep the following tips in mind. As mentioned earlier try to avoid caffeine. Food and drinks with a high sugar content. Sodas have a double whammy, caffeine and they cause a spike in blood sugar levels which increase insulin production and hinder the adrenal glands which inevitably causes an energy crash.
This is not by any means a comprehensive list. There are a myriad of foods that relieve anxiety. Use these guidelines to explore your local grocer or farmers market to see what is out there, Be adventurous and try new things. Buy fruit and vegetables that are local and in season to avoid additives. Ask questions. Local merchants are often knowledgeable about what they sell and sometimes offer classes and tastings. Keep in mind that although your stressors aren’t going to disappear, a healthy, balanced diet does go a long way toward easing tension.
Source: My Daily Moments