Eating Habits and Nutrients to Stay ‘Stress-Free’
Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we can completely remove stress from our lives, but there are many ways to become more resilient and better equipped to tackle it. We’ll find ourselves in many more or less challenging situations, but all of them have the potential to put your body into the famous “fight or flight” mode, overflowing your body with stress hormones.
So, among many short and long-term strategies designed to fend off stress, is your diet your friend or your foe? Various food choices, as well as how, how much and when we eat can profoundly impact our response to stress, either helping us overcome, or making matters worse. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can manage your diet to help you be better at finding your Hakuna Matata in times of stress.
Eating As A Calm Ritual
Fast-paced living has lead to an epidemic of fast eating, and not just in terms of choosing fast food over home-cooked meals and healthy bites, but also in the sense that we’re not enjoying the process as much as we used to. What was once a family-honored tradition is now literally treated as another chore, and eating has become stressful instead of rewarding. Make it your mission to eat every meal mindfully and without resorting to digital distractions to “pass the time”, but rather enjoy the process. If it will help, open a window to let some fresh air in your dining room, play your favorite music, put an effort into creating the right atmosphere and take your time to enjoy every rich, sumptuous bite of it.
Moderation Is Key
Do you love red wine, enjoy hot pastry, crave a cup of coffee, or you’re more of a chocolate fan? Whatever your “weakest link” may be, there is no need to completely remove it from your life if it makes you happy without going on a binge. And therein lies the rub!
A single bar of dark chocolate such as Righteously Raw is a perfect snack to bring a smile to your face and give you a magnesium boost, but no need to reach for too much of the good thing, as it will no longer serve its purpose. Treat yourself to an occasional chocolate cookie, glass of wine or a fresh croissant, but the majority of your daily menu should consist of nutritious meals, not indulgences.
Don’t Neglect Your Micros
The modern fitness craze has lead more people to start either counting calories, or for the true fitness buff, to mind their macros in addition to their calories. But what about the vitamins and minerals that are the building blocks of your immune system, and whose lack can trigger anxiety and depression, or at least nutritional imbalances and overeating. However, most of us struggle to get our daily five of fruits and veggies, leaving gaps in our diet when it comes to getting ample micronutrients to fend off stress. To that end, introducing healthy supplements like those you can find at most health stores or online which provide your body with the right amount of vitamins and minerals to achieve the right balance can be beneficial.
Find Your Comfort Foods
Instead of your typical Ben & Jerry’s scoop of ice-cream when you feel the winter blues, why not seek out healthier alternatives that will simultaneously be nutritious and delicious to satisfy your craving palate?
A handful of almonds with dark chocolate is a brilliant replacement, oat meal is the all-time favorite and fiber-rich comfort meal, dark leafy greens are packed with folate, while antioxidant-rich berries raw, or added to your smoothie are as tasty as they are healthy. All of these foods and their content are going to flood your body with serotonin and dopamine, also known as the happy hormones, and ward off stress for good.