Stress is unavoidable, but would you be surprised to find out that you may be able to reduce or increase your stress, simply by what you eat every day? For most of us, the idea that we can reduce our own stress by simply eating certain foods or avoiding other foods would seem too good to be true. Research suggests that it’s not only possible that the food we eat impacts our mood and stress level, but highly likely.
You don’t have to go on a radical detox or shop only in obscure grocery stories to start eating a stress-free diet. In fact, you probably already have most of the best foods to combat stress!
Protein isn’t only good for building strong muscles and providing stable energy throughout your day. It’s also a key component in releasing dopamine and norepineprhine in your blood stream, two bio-chemicals that are known to improve your mood and energy. Protein is relatively easy to grab for a quick snack or add to your usual meals. Try adding hard-boiled eggs to a salad or adding seafood instead of red meat to your dinner.
Adding folate to your diet is known to naturally reduce symptoms of depression. According to Mayo Clinic, it’s possible to get enough folate through food if your diet is balanced and contains broccoli, lentils, oatmeal, and dark leafy greens.
Foods to skip
Sugar causes a brief blood sugar spike, followed by a crash. Your mood does the same, spiking with the rush of sugar, and then almost immediately plummeting when the sugar crash occurs. Think of your day as an airplane trip. Every passenger wants a smooth trip with little to no turbulence. You certainly don’t hope for the plane’s altitude to rise and fall dramatically and frequently. Your goal for your blood sugar and mood should be the same. Cutting back on sugars, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates will ensure better mood stabilization throughout your day.
Alcohol, too, can increase stress and reduce your mood. It’s cliché to suggest that having a drink after a long day is the best way to relax and unwind, but the science suggests otherwise. Alcohol is a depressant that can make a bad mood worse. It’s also full of sugar, and best avoided during stressful periods. Instead, hit FitClub for a far more natural, healthy endorphin rush.
Eat often enough
Published research conducted by the University of Illinois Extension proves that eating meals and snacks regularly throughout the day helps maintain consistent blood sugar, which stabilizes your mood. The Mayo Clinic agrees, adding that eating too infrequently or missing meals makes your blood sugar drop and sets you up for overeating at your next meal. To set yourself up for success, experiment with healthy snacks and meals on a consistent schedule to see what works best for your body and mood. If you’re eating more frequently than usual, be sure to be conscious of your portion sizes and keep track of your calories to ensure that you’re eating enough of the right foods throughout the day, but not consuming more calories than you are able to burn.