When you stress out, sometimes you turn to food. Pizza, ice cream, mac and cheese—traditional comfort foods often come first when you try to reduce anxiety levels in your everyday life. Unfortunately, these high-fat options can make you more tired and less capable of dealing with stress. High anxiety can drive up blood pressure and cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart attack. So, eating to reduce stress as we know it seems dangerous and counterproductive.
But there are healthy ways to eat to relieve stress. Eating nutritiously can be an effective defense against anxiety. By following a diet low in fat and high in fiber, with lots of fruits and vegetables, you can get the vitamins and nutrients you need and potentially reduce your stress levels.
What Should Your Diet Include?
If you want your food to release your stress, try including these choices in your diet:
- Foods that have high fiber and are carbohydrate-rich: Not everything is wrong with our comfort food examples. Carbs do help our brain produce more serotonin, which can help relax you. There are two types of carbs: simple and complex. Simple carbs include sugary substances and go through your body quickly, while complex carbs take longer to break down and are better for you. When it comes to stress and food, carbs are bad, but complex carbs are good. Try a baked sweet potato, sautéed vegetables, and brown rice, or a quinoa salad.
- Fruits and Veggies: Chronic stress and anxiety can compromise our immune system. Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables with antioxidants and vitamins helps restore what we need: like vitamin C in citrus, and beta-carotene in carrots.
The most important thing to remember when choosing food to help release stress is to eat fresh meals you cook yourself and control what goes into your body. Eating fast food and processed snacks can lead to bingeing and increased stress over time.
What Foods Should You Avoid?
We’ve already discussed avoiding comfort and junk food when eating to reduce stress, but what else should you cut from your diet to keep stress in check?
- Caffeine: Caffeine can keep us awake, causing insomnia and jitters long after you’ve taken it. Caffeine stays in your system for longer than you think, so think about cutting down your intake.
- Sugar: Simple carbohydrates that contain just sugar can cause us to crash fast. Think candy, milk chocolate, and chips.
- High-fat foods: Fatty meats and cheeses, rich pastries, and other high-fat foods can make us tired and increase stress, as well as increasing our risk of heart disease.
Eat Stress-Free with Diet Doc
Eating unhealthy food when you’re anxious or stressed isn’t going to help your condition, but the right diet may help you relax. Check out our website and consult with a Diet Doc professional, and we’ll help build you an exercise and diet plan to reduce stress and make your days calmer. Avoid binge eating and start eating to help relieve your stress instead of feeding it.