Stress is like, stressful, man. Let’s eat.
The alarm goes off and you hit the snooze button, you thought. Then something doesn’t feel right. Something is wrong in your bedroom. What is it? LIGHT… it’s light!!!! There is too much light in the room. You look at that Gotdamn clock and you’re 30 minutes late getting up. You yell in the other room for the kids to get the hell out of bed, brush their teeth because if the teacher smells their witches wart breath, you’ll be the bad parent.
You stumble into the bathroom and look in the mirror. It’s way worse than you thought. You have a sleep line digging through your face that would make scar face, be like DAMN! You’re going to be late for work and those two STDs you call children are not going to help. Will my boss believe traffic? Wait, perhaps I stopped at an accident and gave CPR to an elderly woman and saved her life. No, social media ruined all good hero lies. If you call off sick again you’re going to have to produce lung tissue to support it. Your kid has two different shoes on and you know it is because he can sense you have zero time to waste. Raisins and toast aren’t a bad breakfast for kids, right?
Dude that shit is stressful. But if you have that elevated level of stress everyday even if it is a different type each day it does not do a body good. What is one of the best things that comfort us when stressed? Yes, of course, vodka, heroin, and cigarettes, but I mean the more subtle things. Food. For me it’s mashed potatoes, lots of gravy with a bucket of corn on the side. Some fake chicken cutlets… hell yes. And a tub of Ben and Jerry’s non-dairy nice cream. And vodka.
When you’re stressed out, the foods that you’re turning to are most likely going to be traditional ‘comfort’ foods – think big meals, take-out, fatty foods, sweet foods, and alcohol. Let’s face it – we’ve all found some comfort in a tasty meal and a bottle of beer or glass of wine when we’ve been stressed out or upset about something. However, this isn’t a good permanent solution.
When you’re turning to unhealthy foods you can feel better temporarily, but in the long run, you will feel worse. When your body isn’t getting the right nutrition, you can begin to feel less energetic, more lethargic, and in some cases less able to concentrate and focus. All of this can lead to even more stress.
Foods that Fight Stress
If you’ve been feeling more stressed out than usual lately, it’s important to know which foods are best to choose and which to avoid when it comes to combating stress and helping you to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety. The best way to fight stress is to have a healthy, balanced diet which includes a moderate amount of each of the different food groups.
Filling up on foods such as whole grains, leafy vegetables, and plant proteins as the basic staples of the diet is the best way to ensure that your body gets the optimum amounts of nutrients to fight both physical and mental health problems. When it comes to choosing the foods to eat, some have a range of great properties which help the body to combat stress. Choosing these stress-busting foods will help to heal and calm your mind permanently, rather than providing a temporary fix.
Some of the best stress-fighting foods include:
Blueberries – If you’re feeling stressed out and reaching for the snacks, swapping chocolate or chips for one of the best superfoods is a great way to help you deal with your stress levels and achieve a higher level of calm. Blueberries have some of the highest levels of antioxidants, especially antho-cyanin, which means that this berry has been linked to a wide range of health benefits including sharper cognition, better focus, and a clearer mind – all of which can help you to better deal with stress. (1)
Chamomile Tea – Of course, it’s not all about what you’re eating when it comes to managing stress; what you’re drinking can also alleviate or worsen the stress you’re feeling. Drinking liquids which are high in sugars and caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks or soda, can actually increase your stress levels if consumed regularly. Chamomile tea has long been used as a natural bedtime soother, and it has also been used in clinical trials, which determined that chamomile tea is effective in reducing the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. (2)
Matcha Powder – I use Matcha tea daily for more than just stress relief because it’s rich in L-theanine, a non-protein amino acid with powerful stress-relieving properties. Matcha is a better source of this amino acid than other types of green tea. (3)
Chocolate – Although it’s usually seen as an unhealthy treat, there is an undeniable link between chocolate and our mood. Studies have shown that eating dark chocolate in particular is best for you, as it contains more flavonols and polyphenols, two hugely important antioxidants which can help combat stress, more than many fruit juices. (4)
Oatmeal – Oatmeal is great in that it can be a filling comfort food, but also has a large number of healthy properties to actually make you feel better from the inside out. A complex carbohydrate, eating oatmeal causes your brain to produce higher levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin, helping you to feel calmer and less stressed. Studies have shown that kids who choose oatmeal for breakfast tend to be much sharper throughout the morning in school compared to kids who had alternative morning meals. (5)
Green Leafy Vegetables – leafy, green vegetables should be a pivotal part of anyone’s diet. Along with helping to combat stress, leafy greens are full of nutrients and antioxidants which help to fight off disease and leave your body feeling healthier and more energized. Dark leafy greens, for example spinach, are especially good for you since they are rich in folate, which helps your body to produce more mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which is a ‘feel-good’ chemical. Making leafy greens a part of your diet will help you to feel happier and less stressed out overall. (6) (7)
Fermented Foods – eating fermented foods can help to keep your gut healthy, which actually in turn will help to improve your mental health and reduce stress levels. The beneficial bacteria which are found in fermented foods actually have a direct effect on your brain chemistry and transmit positive mood and behavior regulating signals to your brain via the vagus nerve. Research reveals that fermented foods may help reduce stress and anxiety. Kimchi and sauerkraut are my favorites. (8)
Sweet Potatoes – Eating whole, nutrient-rich carb sources like sweet potatoes may help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. They are a whole food that make an excellent carb choice. They’re packed with nutrients that are important for stress response, such as vitamin C and potassium. (9)(10)