How to Fight Stress with Food

 

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We cannot emphasize how imperative it is to opt for a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating, exercising and resting well. As you enter adulthood, you will notice fatigue more frequently. This is because, throughout the day, your body goes through a lot. This can include physical and mental stress. Whether it is at your workplace or if you are a homemaker, the chores can physically and mentally drain you. The mountain-load of responsibilities can be taxing, and if your body is not up to the challenge, you will feel this fatigue even more.

Piedmont's website states that after you turn 20, your metabolic rate slows down by 10% every decade. This means the body's natural function that changes food to energy reduces over time. Unfortunately for you, those times have passed when you could eat anything you desired and still feel energized. When you hit your 30s, and onwards, your diet can play a huge part. As your metabolism has slowed down, you only want to feed your system the right nutrition and avoid that which can boost your chances of developing chronic diseases or contribute majorly to obesity.

The beginning of the 21st century saw a great deal of advancement in technology that has significantly changed the way we live our lives and interact with others. Lives now have become more complex and overwhelming. This is why we have seen a surge in mental health issues. People go through a great deal of financial and social stress. Some go through the occasional holiday blues, stress sf or seasonal gloom. In short, everyone is struggling at their own end. Our World in Data stated that nearly 4% of the entire world population suffers from depressive and anxiety disorders. And a major contributor to this rising trend is our poor diet.

 

Food and Mood

Food is known to be our biggest ally or our enemy. It can push our stress levels too high or pull them down. It all bottles down to how you plan your meals and incorporate all the right nutrients into them. An article published in Journal Stress suggested that the amount and quality of nutrients you take in can affect the body’s neural circuits that control emotion, motivation, and mood. In addition, certain microorganisms in the gut directly link our feelings to what we eat and drink. This is why the Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences declared food as the key ingredient of good health.

 

Stress vs. Planning

After an extremely tiring day at work or with your newborn baby, the easiest option for you is to get something delivered from your favorite restaurant or simply go and eat out. You do not have the strength to cook and then clean later; quite understandable indeed!

But the truth is, eat-outs can cost more, not just in terms of money but also your health. What you cook at home is far healthier than what these restaurants offer. Yes, we know you do not have the mental strength to think of what to cook at the end of the day. But we have a better proposition for you – “plan ahead”!

It is a lot easier than you think. You can plan a weekly schedule every weekend that you can follow till the next. It doesn't have to be something fancy like a 3-course meal. Just something simple and easy to cook that is power-packed with all the right nutrients. You can also cook in advance, especially before days you know you won't be able to find the time. You can freeze that meal and reheat it whenever needed.

Another way to reduce your cooking stress is to invest in crackpots, instant pots or slow cookers. You can just toss in the ingredients before heading out and come home to a perfectly cooked, healthy meal at the end of the day.

You can also reduce your stress by asking your roommate or family to help with setting the table or cutting veggies while you cook. Delegating work can put loads of pressure off.

 

Food and Stress Management

A stressed-out body can release cortisol, insulin and ghrelin, which can amp up hunger and cravings for unhealthy food. You get stuck in this vicious cycle if you give in to your cravings. The more you eat unhealthily, the more you adversely affect your physical health. And the more your physical health gets affected, the more your mind becomes stressed and seeks comfort in unhealthy food.

With the right type of food, you can break free from this cycle and put your mind and body at peace. Researchers have found many foods that can help elevate your mood and manage your stress. And the foods you should avoid can increase your stress levels, even more, contributing to bad health overall. So we've made a list of all the food you must consume when you feel stressed. And all that you should avoid at any cost.

·         What to eat:

o   Water and milk – keeping your body hydrated can keep your energy levels high throughout the day. On the other hand, milk is rich in calcium and vitamin D that can help muscles relax and stabilize your mood.

o   Fruits – bananas are rich in potassium, magnesium, and dopamine, regulating stress levels. Bananas also have vitamin B12, which reduces stress and fatigue by ensuring the nervous system functions well. Similarly, Vitamin C-rich fruits like oranges and strawberries reduce stress.

o   Dark chocolate – indulge yourself in a piece of dark chocolate and let it wash all your troubles away. The antioxidants in it lower the stress hormone, relaxing your body altogether.

o   Complex carbs – sweet potatoes, whole grains like quinoa bread, brown rice or oats, digest slowly over time, providing you with the right amount of energy and sugar throughout the day. This means a good mood all day long.

o   Herbal tea-sipping, a cup of hot herbal tea, can relax you a lot. All herbal teas are beneficial, but Chamomile is proven to reduce anxiety.

o   Nuts – consuming in small quantities, nuts can help you keep your energy levels up all day long and reduce your blood pressure, keeping your body stress free.

 

·         What to avoid:

o   Alcohol – the biggest contributor of many chronic illnesses, alcohol breeds depression and anxiety in its drinkers. Alcohol dependence, in the long run, can lead to substance abuse that can cause many problems to your health and life.

o   Sugar – cookies, candies, cakes, doughnuts; we absolutely adore these. Unfortunately, they must be avoided entirely. When stressed, our cravings for refined sugars heighten. Increased intake of these can result in obesity and poor health.

o   Caffeine – although coffee and tea improve focus in the earlier hours of the day. But if consumed later, it can mess up your sleep cycle. Caffeine can make you jittery, anxious and more stressed.

 

Conclusion:

A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. And a body needs the right amount and variety of well-balanced food for its right functioning. Eating foods that can work their way around all the happy hormones and the chemicals in your body can instantly uplift your mood after a tough day. Similarly, munching on unhealthy food can cause you to feel bloated, low and stressed. They can also cause long-term health problems that cause more stress and anxiety. To lead a stress-free life, change your eating habits now. 


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