13 Stress busting foods and Stress Management Tips: A World Stress Awareness Day special

Stress Managing Foods

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.

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What Happens When You Are Under Stress?

stress and its mechanisms
The transactional model of stress and coping as shown by Richard Lazarus. Source: Wikipedia

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

1. Spirulina

spirulina is one of the stress busting foods
Green Spirulina can help lower stress and anxiety

Stress hormones are notoriously known to raise blood pressure. potassium rich foods are commonly given to maintain blood pressure.

Dried spirulina powder is a good source of potassium and it is easily available in Possible’s super food Trugreen.

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

fresh veggies are stress busting food no.3
Potassium in fresh veggies help lower high BP, a side effect of stress hormones

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

citrus for stress management
Try antioxidant citrus fruits for stress management

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.

4. Oatmeal

Stress management with oats
High fiber carb = Mood enhancing serotonin = Low stress

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.

In addition, the beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber helps promote satiety compared to other whole grains. You could try vegetable oatmeal upma or this oats veggie dosa today

5. Avocados

Avocados are one of the best stress-busting foods
Avocados are one of the best stress-busting foods

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.

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6. Ginger

Coping with stress using ginger
Coping with stress using ginger

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.

7. Nuts

Nuts are one of the foods that reduce anxiety
Nuts are one of the foods that reduce anxiety

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.

8. Seeds

How to stop emotional eating: Eat seeds
How to stop emotional eating: Eat seeds

Magnesium is shown to help reduce depression, fatigue, and irritability. It also helps fight PMS symptoms, including cramps & water retention.

Flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds which are there in Possible Seeds cocktail are all great sources of magnesium.

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

Deal with emotional eating by sipping on chamomile tea
Deal with emotional eating by sipping on 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

Dark chocolate; one of the stress-busting foods
Dark chocolate; one of the stress busting foods

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.

11. Garlic

Garlic is one among the stress-reducing food
Garlic is one among the stress reducing food

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.

12. Greens

Spinach and chickpea soup for battling stress
Spinach and chickpea soup for battling stress

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

fermented foods for stress management
Fermented foods help in building good gut flora which is connected to good stress management

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

Sunshine can help you battle bad moods and stress attacks
Sunshine can help you battle bad moods and stress attacks

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

Have something you love to do? Do it to battle stress
Have something you love to do? Do it to battle stress

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”.

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