Sometimes stress causes us to feel overwhelmed. You probably know the feeling–deadlines at work, nights with little or no sleep, strain in relationships, just generally feeling stressed out without having the luxury of running away from it all. Luckily, there is a source of relief, and it may be as close as your kitchen.
Foods have the power to provide stress relief simply by our choosing the right ones and avoiding others. Instead of reaching for chocolate chip cookies or a huge helping of mashed potatoes and gravy (comfort foods), you may choose an alternative to avoid the sugary snacks and high-fat carbs that cause your blood sugar to spike and then dive. Stimulants and depressants (alcohol and caffeine) are similar in that the highs are usually followed by lows.
However, there are choices that will satisfy AND keep you satiated for a longer period of time while they are also foods that fight stress. Make your comfort foods healthy, low-cal alternatives when you need a change in attitude or a new outlook on life.
Fruit with Cottage Cheese Try a half-cup serving of protein-rich cottage cheese (which also provides calcium) in combination with cantaloupe, strawberries, or oranges. The vitamin C in the fruit contains antioxidants to fight free radicals released when a person is under stress. For a dessert-like twist, add a dusting of cinnamon on the cottage cheese for a soothing sweet fragrance and taste. Total calories—approximately 150.
Lean Roast Beef or Ground Beef This meat choice contains iron, B vitamins, and zinc—all of which help to stabilize your mood. Many people avoid red meat, branding it as unhealthy, but it is actually very nutrient dense. Choose a lean cut if you are concerned about fat. Total calories—approximately 219 per 4 ounce serving.
Bananas Besides being a fun and portable food (no cooking required), bananas boost your energy. They contain potassium to stimulate nerve, brain, and muscle cells, and are helpful in reducing your blood pressure. Total calories—110 with 3 grams of dietary fiber.
Asparagus The folic acid in asparagus keeps your mood on a steady keel. Folic acid along with B vitamins make serotonin which is referred to as the happiness chemical. High levels of serotonin in the body helps to withstand everyday stresses and fend off depression. Total calories—32 for one cup.
Almonds Magnesium helps reduce anxiety by suppressing adrenaline production and slowing down rapid heart rates. Almonds are loaded with magnesium, as well as potassium and B vitamins which are well-known to produce a calming effect. This is a snack that is easily carried with you to work or while you are out running errands. Grab a handful to escape stress and supply added energy. Total calories—70 for 10 nuts.
Tuna Packed with stress-fighting vitamins B6 and 12, tuna is a mega-source of omega-3 fatty acids, high in protein, and low in fat. It even helps to prevent and control high blood pressure and stabilize mood swings with generous amounts of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Total calories—1 cup canned in water, drained has 138 calories.
Blueberries Besides having the antioxidant qualities that we know by their rich deep color, blueberries contain stress-fighting vitamin C. They are low in calories and high in fiber. Perfect on whole grain cereals or combined with raspberries and bananas for a muscle-food punch in beating stress. Total calories—41 in 1/2 cup.