Stress eating: A common habit of many otherwise well-adjusted adults, who tend to indulge in foods that are high in fat, sugar and calorie content during times of excessive stress. A common issue? Yes. A hopeless situation? Absolutely not. By definition, stress is difficult. When we experience stress our bodies go into fight mode. Adrenalin starts to pump through our blood stream at an accelerated rate and this will cause our pulse and breathing to increase as our heart rate speeds up. Your body wants one thing in times of stress: comfort. One of the easiest ways to find that comfort is through food—and most of the time any old type of food won’t do the trick. Stress causes you to go for the fattiest, sugary-est, most unhealthy foods you can find. This is where comfort foods get their name. Fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, doughnuts, French fries and pizza—these are made out the types of nutrient-devoid ingredients that will slow us down. When you are stressed out they are all your body wants. Yet, they are the worst foods to go for. Eating a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients can actually help you to manage your stress threshold—making it easier for you to manage day to day occurrences and reducing your risk of experiencing the type of adrenaline overload that throws you into stress eating mode.
Stress causes us to crave foods, but this isn’t the whole relationship between stress and our diet. Eating a diet that is rich in certain foods can actually help you manage your stress better. When you are stressed, or when you are moving through a period of your life during which stress levels are exceptionally high, you can actually help reduce your stress level and improve mental health by going for foods that will help to soothe your nerves and moderate hormone fluctuation—which is the chemical cause behind the adrenalin surge your body experiences. What are these foods? Here are six food items that you’ll want to keep close and handy when your stress level starts to peak:
It worked for Popeye and it can work for you. Eating a diet rich in leafy greens like spinach and kale can help you overcome stressful challenges throughout your day. Leafy greens are rich in a variety of nutrients and vitamins, including fiber, calcium, vitamins C, E and A, and phytochemicals. This variety of positive vitamins and nutrients can help fight against diseases like heart disease, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, as well as help with stress management.
Eggs are a go-to in the American diet, and so you may already be incorporating these nutrient-rich vessels into your daily diet. Having eggs in the morning can do more than keep you full until lunch. Recent studies have found eggs to be helpful for children and pregnant mothers in maintaining stable hormone levels and encouraging ideal mental health. Eggs offer protein as well as the nutrient choline, which helps to moderate stress hormones.
Here is a healthy tip to follow. If you are in the midst of a stressful day and need something sweet to comfort you, go for a small piece of dark chocolate. While rich in calories and fat, dark chocolate also packs a decent amount of nutrients and can promote heart health. Milk and white chocolate don’t offer the same benefits, so if you are going to try this out, then just make sure you are going after the real stuff.