Sometimes, stress can produce food cravings. And let’s be honest it’s usually not the healthy foods that we are craving. In fact, common stress-induced cravings like sugar can create energy highs and lows that just leave you more stressed. What if you could nourish your stressed-out body with particular foods that helped your physically and emotionally?
A few weeks ago I kicked off the Couch to 5K program and I will be honest – Day 1 alone kicked my butt! I posted this photo to Instagram after my third attempt at getting through the first day:
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Real talk. I was super bummed after not being able to finish Day 1 of #couchto5k …. Again 😞 Came home ready to sulk, pout and drive to Burger King for the 2 for $4 Sausage, Egg and Cheese croissants. Why? Because food comforts me. When I’m upset, I snack. When I’m down, I snack. When I’m happy and celebrating, yep … I snack. I saw a missed alert from fellow blogger and #CourageToEarn group member @wereparents sharing her yummy #lactation smoothie on #Periscope from this morning and I’m hooked. No, I’m not lactating…LOL But it’s packed with all kinds of yumminess that’s way healthier than my first option. And that’s my journey. Slowly but surely replacing not so good choices with better ones. Day by day. And I’ll be tackling Day 1 again tomorrow. #fitnessjourney #healthychoices #chocolate #smoothie #nofilter #smallsteps #reality Bit.ly/chocolatelactationsmoothie
I have learned over the years that eating a healthy diet is important in managing stress. However in my health and fitness journey this year I am learning that there are some foods that are better “stress busters” than others.
My Favorite Foods for Stress Relief
Here are some of my favorites to eat for stress relief:
1. Red Meat
Did you know red meat (especially beef) contains important anti-stress vitamins like B12 and other B vitamins? Red meat, also, has zinc and iron, which, like the B vitamins, are great mood stabilizers and energy-enhancers. In fact, beef is a very nutrient-dense food and generally quick to prepare. Some sources point out that grass-fed beef is higher in nutrients than grain-fed, feed-lot beef.
This was always one of those vegetables that I avoided. A few years ago I sampled a dish prepared by a local chef in Columbia, SC and was hooked! I definitely have to credit Chef Kat of Natty Queens Cuisine for forcing me to sample and see what I was missing out on.
Popular in the spring when it first comes into season, asparagus also helps you feel more mentally and emotionally stable. This is due to its high folic acid content, which is needed to make serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that promotes a positive mood.
Rich in Vitamin C, oranges help nourish the adrenal glands. These small glands located over the kidneys “eat up” vitamin C and need a lot of it when you’re stressed, because stress taxes the adrenals.
4. Bell Peppers
These are also rich in vitamin C, and are helpful in nourishing the adrenal glands. Remember, adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones, are produced by the adrenals. They need a lot of nourishment when you’re stressed out.
5. Dark Leafy Greens
What makes green leafy veggies so good for stress management? It’s probably the magnesium, a mineral that you need more of when you’re stressed. Magnesium is necessary for optimal nerve and muscle function, which can prevent headaches and enhance sleep.
The best way for me to get my dark leafy greens in is by including them in my morning or mid-afternoon smoothies.
6. Salmon and Tuna
Also high in magnesium, salmon and tuna are high in protein and healthy fats. These essential fatty acids can help manage stress hormone surges and help mood problems like depression. Tuna is high in stress-fighting vitamins B6 and B12.
Most nuts are high in vitamin E, an antioxidant and vitamin that helps fight the free radicals that can be brought on by stress. Almonds have the additional perk of being high in magnesium.
These are just a few of the wonderful healthy foods that can help your body fight off stress. My goal is to purchase less of the un-healthy foods and have more healthy options available so if / when stressful moments come I can make it a habit to reach for the “better-for-me” options.