Can you really eat to reduce stress? The answer is definitely Yes!
When you follow an unhealthy diet, there are both short-term and long-term consequences like decreased productivity, fatigue, and heightened stress levels. If you have found yourself facing any of these symptoms, proper nutrition and a change in eating habits can play a huge role in reducing your stress while improving your quality of life.
In this complete guide on eating to reduce stress, we will break down ways that you can eat to reduce stress and cover some of the best stress-reducing foods you can incorporate into your diet.
While it may be difficult to change your diet at first, it will get easier as new changes become habits. A healthy diet can change your life and all it takes is a steady stream of conscious choices, just a little bit at a time.
Here are 5 tips on how to eat to reduce stress:
The 5 tips below can go a long way in promoting a more calm and relaxed mindset.
1. Focus and relax during mealtimes.
In such a fast-paced world, many of us have grown accustomed to multitasking in excess. While this can be a handy tool from time to time, it can also cause an increase in stress levels. During mealtimes, try to refrain from watching TV, driving, or working. Instead, sit down at a table with no distractions and focus on your meal as you enjoy it.
2. Limit your caffeine intake.
Soda, coffee, and tea are typically high in caffeine and, when consumed in large amounts, can cause an increase in stress and difficulty concentrating. If you currently drink a lot of caffeinated drinks, try reducing your intake to avoid the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. You don’t need to cut out caffeine entirely, but limiting the amount that you drink can go a long way in reducing stress.
3. Avoid refined carbohydrates.
Refined carbohydrates like white bread, pastries, and sugar-sweetened drinks cause sharp spikes in blood sugar levels and subsequent drops in glucose levels. This can cause heightened anxiety and an increase in stress levels, so it’s important to be mindful of how often you consume refined carbs. Try swapping out refined carbs for unrefined grains like brown rice and quinoa, non-starchy vegetables, legumes, and nuts.
4. Don’t eat when you’re not hungry.
Many people turn to food as a source of comfort during times of fear, sadness, boredom, loneliness, and stress. The problem with using food as a coping mechanism or a way to cure your boredom is that it often leads to guilt, anxiety, and indigestion. Listen to your body’s needs and eat when you feel hungry; not for any other reasons.
5. Do not skip meals.
Skipping meals makes it difficult to maintain blood sugar levels. This can inhibit your productivity levels and cause an increase in stress. Plus, skipping meals does far more harm than good.
It’s important to eat regularly throughout the day to maintain stable blood sugar levels. To help with this, prep your meals ahead of time. And to keep yourself satiated, be sure to keep healthy snacks in the house at all times. You can reach for these when you don’t have time to cook.
Here are 10 stress-reducing foods to incorporate into your diet:
Nuts like almonds and pistachios are filled with B vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. These qualities help relieve stress. They make for delicious healthy snacks and help keep you feeling satisfied throughout the day. Keep in mind, nuts are high in calories. Therefore, eat smaller quantities. Aim for a palm-sized amount, no more than once a day.
Avocados have gained a ton of popularity as a superfood in recent years, most often enjoyed in salads and on toast. These fatty fruits are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and help with improving mood, boosting concentration, and reducing stress levels.
3. Herbal tea.
The act of sipping a warm beverage can have a calming effect on people. Adding herbs like chamomile and lavender can multiply the calming effects and provide long-term benefits to your body’s stress response.
4. Bell peppers.
Peppers are high in vitamin C and reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body as well as promote brain health. Bell peppers contain nearly 3 times the amount of Vitamin C than oranges do.
5. Dark chocolate.
Chocolate lovers, rejoice! Dark chocolate is incredibly rich in antioxidants that have proven benefits on stress levels and mood. It is important to stick to high-quality dark chocolate with only a few ingredients and eat it in small amounts.
6. Matcha powder.
Made from dried green tea leaves, matcha powder is revered for its tremendous amount of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants. It’s especially high in L-theanine, an amino acid known for its powerful stress-relieving abilities.
7. Fermented foods.
Fermented foods like Greek yogurt and kimchi are extremely high in probiotics. Probiotics are known to reduce anxiety and improve your mood. They also have tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them highly beneficial to a healthy diet.
8. Sweet potatoes.
If you’re looking for a healthy source of carbs, sweet potatoes are one of the best choices. Packed with nutrients like vitamin C and potassium, eating sweet potatoes will promote a healthy stress response.
Known as nature’s multivitamin, eggs are loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants that promote healthy stress levels. Eggs hold high levels of the mineral called choline. This is often used as a supplement to protect against stress and improve brain health.
These fiber-rich legumes are packed with vitamins and minerals that are known to reduce stress and improve brain health; like B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and selenium. Studies have shown that healthy diets that incorporate legumes cause people to experience less stress and better moods than those without them.
Knowing how to eat and what to eat will guide your daily life towards inner peace. As you create healthier eating habits, you will start to see real changes in your stress levels and overall mental health.