Work, finances, relationships, unexpected circumstances, just daily, hectic life—it adds up to make us moody, tired, irritable, unfocused, and even sick.
But guess what? Taming the stress you’re feeling can start with a simple choice: what goes on your plate. It’s true. What you eat can help to relieve the uncomfortable—and unhealthy—consequences of stress, including weight gain, high blood pressure, immune challenges, pain, and more.
To eat for stress management, choose foods that boost levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical. At the same time, it’s important to add foods that decrease cortisol and adrenaline, the stress hormones that take a toll on the body over time.
I’ve compiled a stress-busting shopping list of foods that do the above. The results: a calmer, better-focused, happier, and more productive you. (And me. I’ve already beat you to the store to stock up!)
Who knew that this iron-rich vegetable would aid you with your stress, too? Spinach is a great source of magnesium, a natural mood and muscle relaxer. Helping to ease your mind, nerves, and muscles, magnesium has even been used to treat depression and headaches.
- Pistachios, walnuts, and almonds
Each of these nuts is a little powerhouse of omega-3 fat that, along with fatty fish, can prevent surges in undesirable stress hormones and may help protect against heart disease, PMS, and anxiety and depression, too. Just one handful will do it!
- Crunchy raw vegetables
Here’s a surprise: Chomping on such hard vegetables as carrots and celery not only provides fiber and vitamins. It also exercises the jaw, relieving tension that can build up over the day. You actually may not know that you clench your jaw when stressed or concentrating, but if you often notice jaw or neck stiffness, or even headaches, they might arise from this all-too common habit.
- Oatmeal and quinoa
These and other healthful, wheat-free, complex carbs do double duty. They are comfort foods that speed the release of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. They also help you feel balanced by stabilizing blood sugar levels because they are digested more slowly than sugary foods.
Didn’t your mother always tell you to eat your broccoli? She was right. This vegetable is a fabulous source of folate, a key B vitamin that keeps your neurotransmitter factories humming. This vitamin is so powerful, it has been used for decades to treat clinical depression. Put it on your own plate and you’ll be less prone to bad moods and fuzzy thinking during your busy day.
Got those five? Now add a healthy dose of exercise as well as other time-proven ways to de-stress, such as acupuncture and meditation, and remove sugary, caffeinated foods that increase tension and moodiness. It’s a road map to a calmer and healthier self. Need a push to get you started? Call me at 212-686-0939. I can help refine that map to suit your unique needs.