Exams and deadlines are just around the corner, and stress often leads to stress-eating! However rather than grabbing another bag of Doritos to drown your sorrows in cheesy-potato flavoured chips, try incoporating some of these foods into your diet to help manage stress levels and be a healthier, happier you!
If you love carbs already, they’re probably the first thing you reach for when feeling stressed. Rather than denying yourself any carbs at all (they’re essentially energy after all, and your brain needs that to function!), reach for healthier substitutes like oatmeal.
MIT research found that carbs help the brain make serotonin (which is also found in antidepressants), but complex carbs are best to prevent blood glucose spikes. Oatmeal is one of them, full of fibre and perfect topped with some fresh fruit to prepare you for the day ahead.
One such fruit topping we recommend for combating stress is blueberries. “When you’re stressed, there’s a battle being fought inside you,” says Heather Mangieri, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “The antioxidants and phytonutrients found in berries fight in your defense, helping improve your body’s response to stress and fight stress-related free radicals.”
If oatmeal’s not your thing, this also go great in smoothies, on top of yogurt, or as a handy snack to-go.
A 2013 UCLA study found that the probiotics in yogurt led to reduced brain activity in emotional regions, such as those responsible for causing stress and anxiety. Consumption also led to improvements in decision-making, and whilst the study was small, yogurt’s protein-punch makes it worth trying anyway – just stay away from the ones packed with added sugar to prevent energy spikes and crashes.
The one you’ve all been waiting for – how can I indulge as I de-stress? We’ve long been told how incorporating ‘a few squares’ of dark chocolate into your diet is good for you, but new research has found that it can reduce stress hormones, such as cortisol. Due to its rich, bitter taste, it’s also less likely you’ll be able to polish off a whole bar of this compared to milk chocolate.
Low levels of folic acid have been linked to certain cases of depression, and asparagus contains this in high amounts along with many other beneficial nutrients. Steam or grill this versatile vegetable and add to an unprocessed protein source alongside some slow-releasing carbs for a balanced meal to get you through this stressful period.