When you’re stressed out, you might be inclined to reach for a bag of chips or a cupcake.
That’s normal. According to a recent survey by the Harvard School of Public Health, NPR, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 39% of people say they eat more when they’re stressed out. Another 44% say they eat less when stressed, which is a bad idea because your body won’t be able to function or regulate your mood without the nutrients it needs.
But emotional eating isn’t healthy — at least, not if it makes you gravitate towards those quick snack foods. NPR’s Morning Edition got in touch with researchers who study how different foods affect people’s moods, and according to those experts, there’s a strong relationship between what you are eating and your stress levels.
For example, carb-heavy comfort foods like chips, cupcakes, and cookies fall high on the glycemic index, meaning that they cause blood sugar to spike quickly but then crash afterwards, according to David Ludwig, a professor of pediatrics and nutrition at Harvard University and a researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital.
As Ludwig told NPR, “when we feel stressed we seek foods that are going to comfort us immediately, but often times those foods lead to surges and crashes in hormones and blood sugar that increase our susceptibility to new stresses.” His research shows that the crash when blood sugars drop causes stress hormones like adrenaline to surge to high levels.
The experts suggested some foods that may help people regulate their mood and stress levels. Here are seven suggestions:
1. Turkey. Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that boosts serotonin production, which helps alleviate stress. Add turkey to your morning omelet or slice it up into a salad at lunch.
2. Spinach. This leafy vegetable is great source of magnesium, a mineral that helps promote a sense of calm. Spinach, which is a great source of fiber, also helps boost your energy levels. Opt for this instead of lettuce in your salad at lunch.
3. Salmon. This fish is full of Omega 3 essential fatty acids, which help to boost serotonin production. The DHA (docosahexanoic acid) in Omega 3 fats help to nourish the brain while mitigating stress hormones. Plus, the Omega 3 in salmon can reduce inflammation and promote healthy blood flow, both of which are compromised with chronic stress. Enjoy wild Alaskan salmon up to three times a week.
4. Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are a rich source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential 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. Have a handful of nuts as an afternoon snack.
5. 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. Have a bowl for breakfast with some walnuts and cashews, as well as some cinnamon to help stabilize your blood sugar, and you will on your way to a more tranquil day.
6. 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. Have an orange in the afternoon for a calming and nourishing snack.
7. Sweet potatoes and carrots. Root vegetables are a good source of fiber and carbohydrates, which can help to boost serotonin production. Plus, because they are subtly sweet, they can offset cravings for sugar. Sweet potatoes and carrots are also a great source of vitamins and minerals that are good for your blood pressure and your heart. Have a handful of baby carrots with some almond butter in the afternoon or a sweet potato with dinner a couple of times a week.There’s obviously no silver bullet stress treatment. But when looking for a snack that’s both tasty and nutritious, choosing one of the above is a much better way to go than opting for something that’ll crash your system.
There’s obviously no silver bullet stress treatment. But when looking for a snack that’s both tasty and nutritious, choosing one of the above is a much better way to go than opting for something that’ll crash your system.
From: businessinsider.com en inc.com