How To Eat Your Stress Away
When I feel down or stressed it feels so good to just grab some cupcake, snacks or make a stop at some random fast food joint. Just eat whatever I am craving at the moment and maybe even have a glass of wine. Kind of like a "f*ck it to the world, I am going to stuff my face with whatever I want while binge-watching on Netflix. Take that world!
Are we on the same page? Maybe a little...
It makes SO MUCH sense though. When we eat, our bodies release a hormone called oxytocin and that's what gives us that feeling of pleasure and which is why we love to stuff our faces good. Real good. Unfortunately in the process, not making the best food choices.
Good news is that this means we are not crazy people running around with a complete lack of self-control.
Woohoo, blame it on biology!
ALWAYS PLAN AHEAD.
When we are stressed, we usually find ourselves saying we are "too busy," too often.
Processed food, sugars, and alcohol, just to mention a few can actually make you feel worse so the best thing you can do is eliminate the risk of you having to use them to satisfy a hunger or a craving.
Make sure you take time at least once a week to get some of these feel-good foods mentioned below and make sure you have them handy. If you find yourself snacking a lot at work, bring some of it with you. Or maybe in your car or bag. Plan ahead what you are making for dinner the night before so you don't have to make that decision when you are tired and "hangry."
So let's go over the list of foods that can actually help improve your mood. I have put together some of my own go-to's that can actually help make you feel less stressed and anxious.
Not talking about jujube candy guys. This exotic fruit is about 4000 years old and has amazing nutritional benefits.
The jujube is about the size of a date but texture and flavor are similar to those of an apple. This fruit is loaded with vitamins and minerals but most importantly ENERGY and it's even been used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Jujubes have also been known to be used as a natural antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and anti-stress medicinal food.
PERKS: Makes a great snack to toss in your bag since it won't make a mess and no utensils needed!
WHERE TO FIND: Depending on where you live and the season, you might be able to find them at your local farmers market. If not, see if you have an Asian market where you live.
Look around, they are worth it!
Think spinach and kale, or any food that is rich in folate.
Folate has the ability to raise your levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate your mood. If you don't like the taste then try to mix them up in a smoothie with fruit or mix them into your omelet!
PERKS: Versatile. You can do pretty much anything with leafy greens. Salads, omelets, smoothies, pie. Use your imagination.
WHERE TO FIND: Any grocery store or market. Or try to grow them yourself if you have the space, yum!
GOOD carbs! Like whole grains and fruit. Love me some oatmeal with banana and cinnamon in the morning. Sometimes a little sprinkle of raw local honey on top, mmm.
PERKS: So easy to bring with you or even store some at work. All you need is some water and a microwave. Or pack a glass jar with some fruit.
WHERE TO FIND: Local market and grocery store.
This is really interesting especially for my ladies out there. They did a study with 50 women during two menstrual cycles, giving some placebo capsules and some saffron capsules. Turned out the women who took the saffron capsules had a decline in mood swings and depression! Apparently, saffron has antidepressant effects that are compatible to Prozac. WHAT!?! Sweet.
PERKS: Easy peasy to consume.
WHERE TO FIND: Online or a vitamin shop. Some grocery stores might even carry it.
Green, black and oolong tea consists of an amino acid called Theanine that helps improve attention and focus, generally giving you a more alert state of mind while reducing tension and anxiety. One study said to drink 5-6 cups which seems like a little overkill to me with the caffeine but it's up to you!
PERKS: Easy to have at home or to bring in a thermos! I have a friend that always walks around with tea bags that she can use when she goes somewhere.
WHERE TO FIND: Local store.
This one I also found very interesting. In a study at Columbia University, they had people who were going through a challenging task breath in coconut fragrance and it showed that by doing that their blood pressure recovered faster. Stating that when you are stressed, the scent of coconut may blunt your natural "fight or flight" response, slowing your heart rate.
Preferably DHA and EPA that you can find in salmon and sardines. ALA is important as well so still make sure you have seeds and nuts that are rich in that acid, such as flaxseeds. These are the fatty acids our body is not able to make on its own. Omega 3 fatty acids produce the chemicals dopamine and serotonin. These are stress fighters who reduce your levels of the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol like mentioned earlier with the coconut. They help relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
Doctors believe that by substituting unhealthy foods (like fried and processed foods) with healthier foods, you can improve your mood significantly.
I remember when I was studying nutrition and I went to a guest lecture by some doctor. He said that if people would stop drinking soda and what else, and only drank water and green tea, just by doing that, they would see a change in their health. I went home to my roommate and told her about what he said because she was a big soda drinker. She took the advice and noticed a big change after just a couple of weeks both with her weight and her mood. It was incredible!
It is in our best interest to make these changes to feel better. When you are anxious your body focus on survival. It doesn't focus on your immune system or you thriving in life. That means that the longer your body is feeling stressed and is in this survival mood, the greater the chances of you getting sick.
Changing the way you eat is not a quick fix that will take all your stress away and conquer all your goals and dreams, BUT it is a big step in the right direction!
It's what I talk about in my The Science of Letting Go tribe. Putting together a few pieces of a puzzle will not complete it unless you put in ALL the pieces, right?
So why would you assume that you would be your best self by only doing workouts, or only doing meditation, or only changing your diet? Or being in a great relationship but you hate your job? Or having a great job but your relationships sucks?
Our goal is not perfection. Our goal is to do the best that we can for ourselves and the people around us every single day.
So let's end that unnecessary stress, and waste of energy and TIME, your precious time, right now starting with the way we eat!
Let me know in the comments if you think I forgot something or you tried out this list.