Stress is common and sometimes needed to help you go that extra mile. But that doesn’t make stress a good thing.
Stop stressing about stress because Possible’s Senior Dietician Priya Deena George has put together a list of 13 foods to eat and other stress management tips.
Stress just comes across as a strong feeling but actually is a complex hormonal cocktail that could jeopardize your health.
Coping up with stress is not a joke too. You can take charge of your health by availing this free nutritionist consultation at any of the Possible centers.
What Happens When You Are Under Stress?
The NIH, National Institute of Mental Health defines stress as the brain’s response to any demand.
A transactional model of stress as shown by Richard Lazarus shows that stress is a product when there is a disconnect between demand and resources. The below diagram shows it very well.
Stress over a prolonged period of time will become chronic. Whatever, be the scenario, stress can affect weight, immunity, heart health, sleep, and general happiness.
Hence stress relief and stress management are very important.
Multiple studies have shown that sudden emotional stresses, especially anger can trigger heart attacks, arrhythmia, and even sudden death.
Can Stress and Anxiety Make You Gain Weight?
The question you should really be asking is can high cortisol levels cause weight gain?
Because stress is just a term but all its effects are because of the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress, promotes storage of fat in the body.
Additionally, it also increases the cravings for fatty and sugar-laden foods, something which is also called as ‘emotional eating’.
This double pronged attack leads to weight gain and if ignored, obesity. Did you know stress is one of the 5 reasons for weight gain? To know the rest 4, read this blog.
Cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress, promotes storage of fat in the body and also prompts emotional eating
So how to deal with emotional eating? By including these13 dietician-recommended foods that reduce anxiety.
13 Must-include Stress-Reducing Foods in the Diet
Stress hormones are notoriously known to raise blood pressure. potassium rich foods are commonly given to maintain blood pressure.
You can include other potassium-rich foods such as bananas, beans, spinach, milk, mushrooms, orange juice, coconut water, avocados, sweet potatoes, and yam. Read more about this nutritious alga in our blog post.
2. Fresh Crunchy Vegetable Salads
Jaws are the muscle where most of the tension is held. Think about it, clenched jaws are a sign that you are tensed.
The best and healthy way to relieve stress from the jaws is by the mechanical action of crunching fresh veggies. Raw veggies are low in energy, high in vitamins and minerals, and fiber.
Since stress is associated with high blood pressure, errant lipid levels; fresh vegetables help in preventing these side effects.
You can munch on carrots, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, celery, fennel and other veggies of your choice. If you include a dip, make it from low-fat yogurt or avocados. Try this Sunshine salad recipe today.
3. Vitamin C-rich Foods
Studies have shown that those who consume high amounts of vitamin C before a stressful situation have lower blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol compared with those who didn’t consume high amounts of vitamin C.
Hence it would be wise to catch some of this vitamin. Citrus fruits are good sources of vitamin C.
Other sources of vitamin C are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
Carbohydrates, when eaten, are known to release the feel-good hormone serotonin.
Oatmeal, being a complex carbohydrate, causes the brain to produce serotonin in a staggered fashion.
Avocados contain antioxidants lutein, beta-carotene, and vitamin E as well as plenty of B vitamins like folate.
Low levels of folic acid are linked to depressed moods. Avocados are also a good source of potassium which helps to maintain blood pressure during stress. Whip these nutritious and buttery fruit into guacamole today.
Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory food and stress is known to cause inflammation throughout the body.
Inflammation in itself is a sign of all chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and autoimmune disorders.
Most of the nuts are helpful to combat stress. Low levels of zinc can lead to both anxiety & depression.
Nuts, especially cashews are a healthy source of zinc. Soak em and pop em for good health.
Magnesium is shown to help reduce depression, fatigue, and irritability. It also helps fight PMS symptoms, including cramps & water retention.
Loading up on this mineral helps to regulate emotions. You can include nuts in the form of a chutney or in a nutty channa and egg seeds salad.
9. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea was shown to be effective against anxiety. It contains phytochemicals that promote relaxation and reduce swelling from inflammation.
10. Dark Chocolate
Chocolate has a strong positive effect on mood and generally increases pleasant feelings while reducing tension.
Recent research shows eating dark chocolate can help reduce levels of cortisol and catecholamines (hormones associated with stress), especially for those with high anxiety.
It helps to lower blood pressure, giving a feeling of calmness. A bite of this goodness is fine but you can ask your dietician for the allowed dose while on a diet.
The Garlic is packed with powerful antioxidants. It contains Allicin compound, which helps to prevent heart disease, cancer, and even common cold.
Because stress weakens our immune system, we need to include garlic. Possible’s Trugreen has garlic extracts too making it super healthy.
A Greens like spinach contain folate, which produces dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical, which helps one to keep calm.
Folate helps to lower depression symptoms. Try adding palak in a spinach chickpeas soup.
13. Fermented Foods
Unhealthy gut flora will have an ill effect on the brain health, leading to anxiety & depression.
Beneficial bacteria have an impact on brain chemistry.
Nourish the gut flora by eating fermented foods, avoiding processed foods and sugar-laden foods.
These food choices are extremely important to have a positive mood.
Some Stress-busting Tips
Get Some Sunshine
It’s not for anything that chirpy, happy people are called sunshine. A daily dose of sunshine is known to help stabilize the mood.
Serotonin, the brain hormone associated with mood elevation, rises with exposure to bright light and falls with decreased sun exposure.
Not just that, low vitamin D levels are also associated with an increased risk of panic disorders.
Sun exposure for minimum 15 mins is the best solution to get maximum mood-uplifting and stress-busting benefits.
Avoid these like Plague: Sugary and Starchy foods
Sugar promotes chronic inflammation and has a toxic effect on mood leading to depression.
Wheat inhibits the production of Serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression, and stress management.
Stress Management Tips and Tricks
How to relieve stress you ask? Try these stress reducing techniques to keep that bothersome feeling away.
- Find something that makes you laugh.
- Treat yourself- Take some time out for yourself.
- Practice affection.
- Connect with friends & family.
- Be more proactive & organized-helps one to stay calm & focused.
- Indulge in a power nap, even 10 mins can work wonders—they exhibit improved alertness & cognitive performance.
- Take time to exercise—Get up & get moving to beat the stress.
- Put down the smartphone
- Remember to breathe—Study found that slow, controlled breathing decreased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone).
- Eat a healthy & balanced diet.
- Listen to music.
- Spend your free time practicing yoga. Know about yoga’s benefits here
- Finally, according to Albrecht, use a simple acronym: BREADS—Breathing, Relaxation, Exercise, Attitude, Diet & Sleep. —” It can aid in stress relief & help self-management”.