Have you been feeling stressed lately? Tensed? Fuming at every little thing? Then you probably want to double check your diet and compare to it to the following list, because these are the foods to avoid when you’re stressed.
Foods to avoid when you’re stressed
Stress affects the immune, nervous and endocrine systems, leaving you weaker and exhausted both mentally and physically. If a healthy diet is important on a normal basis, it becomes fundamental in this case.
Foods can either help restore the body’ well-being and consequently help you fight stress, or they can worsen your condition and deplete you from the little energies and health you have already.
Find out below which foods to avoid when you’re stressed.
Sugar stimulates your body without bringing any nutrients or benefits to it. Moreover, it has an addictive effect. The more you eat it, the more you want to eat it, and if you don’t comply with the craving you may even get the jitters and a foul mood. But if you do, you will be endangering your health even more on top of what is already suffering.
Basically, sugar and other sweeteners can become an extra source of stress to your body.
Try to reduce your intake as much as possible and slowly so the body doesn’t feel the withdrawal. Also, remember to avoid sugary foods too, like ice-cream, donuts, pastries, etc.
Stress increases your blood pressure and heartbeat. Sounds familiar? That’s exactly what an excess of caffeine does too.
It’s fine to have your coffee in the morning and perhaps another in the afternoon, but you should avoid having more than that. When you’re stressed, you need something that relaxes and calms you, not something that pumps you up.
This category of foods to avoid when you’re stressed includes everything that comes in packages, has preservatives, artificial sweeteners or that simply isn’t natural. These foods often contain ingredients that are either harmful to your health or worsen your symptoms.
Most are high in sugars and sugar substitutes which, as previously explained, it’s not good. But they are usually high in sodium too, causing the body to retain fluids and your heart to beat faster to pump the blood.
Some can also make you feel bloated or increase your blood pressure, adding to the stress you’re feeling a sense of general unwellness.
Since alcohol helps the body relax, stressed people tend to have a drink or two to release the tension. The problem is that, as the stress amounts, the body gets used to the alcoholic content of these beverages and you need to drink more to achieve the effect you use to have with one single glass.
Alcohol affects the liver, disrupt hormones and, by increasing the cortisol levels, can also prevent a good night of sleep. These three factors are bound to leave you more stressed, tired, unwell and unable to cope and manage your tension.
Best foods to eat when you’re stressed
The list of foods to avoid when you’re stressed might seem small, but processed and sugary foods encompass more than they look.
So, what can you replace them with? Just as some meals might help your stress levels go off the roof, there are others that encourage the body to relax the clear your mind.
Foods with prebiotics: garlic, onion, bananas, asparagus, leeks.
Prebiotics are a component present in food that serves as food themselves to the “good bacteria” in the gut. According to a 2016 research, by promoting the well-being of these bacteria, prebiotics can reduce stress and improve sleep quality.
Calming herbal teas: chamomile, lemon balm, linden, valerian, catnip.
Since you should cut your coffee intake, why not substitute it for herbal teas? Some plants such as chamomile, valerian, peppermint or lemon balm are renown for their calming and soothing effect and can help you manage the tension you are feeling.
Food with vitamin C: kale, kiwis, parsley, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, oranges.
Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant that plays a key role in supporting the immune system. Its intake is already positive enough for this reason, but according to a 2015 research, it might also influence the stress levels directly.
In the randomized, double-blind trial, the individuals who were taking a supplement of vitamin C presented less anxiety and lower heart rates than the placebo group.
Folic acid / Vitamin B9
Foods with folic acid: dark leafy greens like spinach, asparagus, avocado, papaya, broccoli, lentils, pinto beans, chickpeas.
Folic acid has an antidepressant effect that counteracts stress symptoms. What’s more, its deficiency can even be one of the causes for you to feel unwell.
When you’re tense, the brain releases more cortisol and adrenaline, the so-called “stress hormones”. Increasing the intake of foods rich in folic acid helps to neutralize this effect as this acid plays an important role in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for creating a sense of happiness and calm.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Foods with omega-3 fatty acids: mackerel, salmon, herring, flaxseeds, chia seeds, soybeans.
It has already been confirmed that the intake of omega-3 fatty acids cannot help with chronic stress, but it is effective as a short-term solution. A randomized 2011 controlled trial showed that these acids decrease the production of proinflammatory components by the body while simultaneously controlling the symptoms of depression and anxiety, which in turn affect the stress levels.
Some other tips to manage stress
You now know which foods to avoid when you’re stressed and which ones you should be increasing your intake, but there are more things you can do to reduce your stress levels.
Exercising might be the last thing you want to do, but even a 20-minute walk can leave you more relaxed and clear your mind. Meditation is also a good strategy and you can do it anywhere, since, contrary to popular belief, there is no need to sit down in a certain position or make sounds to do it.
Try to have a good social support too. Talk to your friends or family and share your feelings and concerns to reduce the burden on your shoulders. Since they are outsiders, they can even provide you with new perspectives and solutions for whatever is stressing you.
You can find other strategies to manage stress in the following video.