Foods to relieve stress
Many of us reach for food at time of stress, but instead of grabbing an unhealthy quick-hit sugar fix that will inevitably leaving feeling crashed and burned later, why not go for foods that can relieve your stress? After all if you are going to munch in times of panic — munch on a stress relieving food.
Turkey contains the magic bullet amino acid tryptophan, which, when eaten brings about the release of a feel-good chemical in the brain called serotonin. And when serotonin is released it induces a sense of calm, so much so it can even lead to feelings of tiredness. Could be the reason why Christmas day generally ends with a snooze on the sofa (nothing to do with alcohol consumption at all).
At times of stress your body just seems to crave carbs, but instead of going for fries, mash or plates of pasta, opt for sweet potatoes instead. As sweet potatoes are a low GI carb (meaning they release a slow steady source of energy) after you eat you won’t have the depressing blood-sugar crash that a big baguette or plate of penne can cause. Cut them into wedges and bake with olive oil and rosemary, make a mash with crème fraiche or just bake them like your standard spud.
Blueberries are well known on the food circuit as having super-food status, and rightly so. The concentrated anti-oxidants in blueberries go right to a sluggish and stressed-out brain faster than a double espresso. They’re also extremely high in vitamin C, which has been shown to give the body added reserves to help it deal with high levels of stress. And another stress-busting weapon in the blueberries armour is that they are packed with fibre — which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels that fluctuate too much are a major contributor to stress for some people.
Avocados sometimes get bad press because they are high in fat, but it’s the ‘good’ monounsaturated kind, not the hard, yellowy saturated stuff. And it’s these monosaturated fats, coupled with high levels of potassium that give avocados their stress-busting status. Research has shown one of the best ways to lower blood pressure is to eat foods that are rich in potassium and avocados are jam-packed with it — even more than bananas.
Nope, sushi isn’t a stress buster just because it’s often accompanied by saki bombs and enviably a sleep. Sushi is rich in not one but two feel-good chemicals, serotonin and melatonin. Plus, the rice in the rolls gives you the perfect fibre and carbs-to-protein combo, just enough to give you the added energy boost with no after burn. And we can’t forget the fish if you are a non-veggie sushi lover, the omega 3s in oil fish like salmon and tuna have been found by doctors to be nature’s number one stress reducer.
Despite having a kind of strange affect on your pee, asparagus is super high in folic acid which can help stabilize a stressful mood. You see, when your body is under stress it releases hormones which can affect your mood. Eating certain vitamins and minerals like folic acid and B vitamins can help keep your mood steady because they’re needed to make that feel-good super chemical serotonin. Cook on a grill pan and serve up with a fillet of salmon and sweet potato mash on the side for the perfect stress-busting supper.
What a great reason to order a steak — it can chill you out. Beef’s stress busting properties are due to its B vitamins and levels of zinc. Of course, beef does contain the ‘bad fats’ — the unhealthy saturated kind which can increase your risk of coronary heart disease and other illnesses. But you can get around this issue by opting for the leaner cuts; the perfect excuse to go for a fillet. One of the healthier ways to serve beef is Carpaccio — slightly seared on the outside, sliced super-thin and served up with a rocket salad.