It can be hard juggling the demands of life and work commitments. Stress is almost inevitable. But it’s how you handle the stress that can be the difference between feeling you’re barely surviving to actually thriving.
Stress is a health hazard that has been linked to everything from diabetes and high blood pressure to Alzheimer’s disease. Stress often leads to making poor food choices. Instead of reaching for that bag of chips or hitting up the vending machine for a candy bar, there are healthy food choices you can make that actually offset stress.
- Turkey – Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that boosts serotonin production, which has been shown to alleviate stress. Add turkey to your morning omelet or dice it into a salad for lunch.
- Spinach - Spinach is a great source of magnesium, a mineral that helps promote a sense of calm. It’s also full of fiber, which can boost your energy levels. Instead of lettuce, choose leafy, green spinach.
- Salmon - Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to boost serotonin production, nourish the brain and reduce inflammation promoting healthy blood flow – all of which are compromised by chronic stress. Look for wild Alaskan salmon and serve it at least once a week.
- Nuts and seeds - Nuts and seeds are a rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help reduce stress. Walnuts are one of the best sources of omega-3s. Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain tryptophan, which boosts serotonin production and can take the edge off a stressful day. Keep nuts handy as an afternoon snack.
- Oatmeal - The complex carbohydrates in oatmeal help to boost serotonin production. Plus, oats have a lot of calming magnesium as well as potassium, which has been shown to help lower blood pressure. Make a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and toss in some walnuts and cashews, as well as some cinnamon to help stabilize your blood sugar and you’ll be on your way to a stress-free day. (Tip – you can even make it the night before if your mornings are rushed.)
- Citrus fruit - Oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits are a great way to get your vitamin C, which studies show reduces stress levels. Plus, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that boosts your immune system. Keep oranges handy for a quick snack anytime.
- Sweet potatoes and carrots - Root vegetables are a good source of fiber and carbohydrates, which can help boost serotonin production. Bonus – because they are slightly sweet, they can offset sugar cravings. Sweet potatoes and carrots are also a great source of vitamins and minerals that are good for your blood pressure and your heart. Pack baby carrots with almond butter for a power snack in the afternoon and have a sweet potato with dinner a couple of times a week (Tip – sweet potatoes cook very well in the microwave).