By Virginia Cunningham
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
For many individuals, the first instinct in stressful situations is to reach for our favorite comfort foods. Unfortunately, the foods we tend to reach for first are the least healthy, and they can even make us feel worse. Eating unhealthy food can lead to high blood pressure, weight gain and a range of heart problems, which all put further stress on the body….
You can help overcome the cycle of stress eating by making some healthier choices. Rather than go through an entire bag of chips or candy, consider the following alternatives for your munchies. Not only are they healthier for you than most snack foods, but they can also help you de-stress, improve your mood and maintain a healthy body weight.
Cocao / Dark Chocolate
Usually, we think of dessert foods as being unhealthy for us. After all, chocolate tastes way too delicious to be any good for you. However, dark chocolate is one of the healthiest sweet treats on the shelves. It’s even often recommended by doctors for those who suffer from high blood pressure. Dark chocolate is chock full of antioxidants, which are well known stress combatants.
Fighting anxiety has never tasted so sweet!
At the end of a tough day, one of the best feelings in the world is to get under a blanket with a nice cup of tea and a book to forget your worries. Tea is filled with theanine, an amino acid that has been said to reduce stress and even help you get some extra sleep. For the best de-stressing results, choose a tea with little to no caffeine, like green or black tea. Chamomile tea is one of the best teas to perk you up after a trying day.
You know that great feeling that comes over you after you drink a cup of orange juice when you’re feeling sick? That’s vitamin C doing wonders to help heal your body. It works to boost your immune system and make you feel better on a regular basis. It also lowers your blood pressure as well as your stress levels, so be sure to down a glass or two each morning along with a balanced breakfast.
Fatty fish, like salmon, is filled with omega-3 fatty acids. When it comes to fighting stress, omega-3 also can help you anxiety levels drop by 20%, according to a recent Ohio State study. Omega-3 is also good for your heart health, which can be especially important if your family has a history of heart disease.
Oatmeal is one of those fiber-filled foods that helps your brain produce serotonin, which is a chemical that plays a big part in your overall mood. It also gives you energy so that you can face your day without stress. Oatmeal also has the added benefit of reducing the risk for heart disease.
Green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach, contains magnesium which has multiple health benefits. It calms nerves, assists in muscle relaxation and fights fatigue. Whenever possible, try opting for spinach and kale for your salads and sandwiches, instead of the typical iceberg lettuce.
When you feel stress begin to take over your better judgment and you start reaching for the bag of chips, think about the healthier stress fighter. With the right food choice, you can beat anxiety without the negative side effects of the greasier or fattier alternatives.
About the author:
Virginia Cunningham is a freelance health writer and mother of three who writes for Northwest to help educate others about their personal health. To keep her own stress levels at bay, she practices yoga every morning and makes the conscious choice of eating foods that contain the most nutritional value.