In stressful situations, it’s easy to turn toward food to deal with emotions. Unfortunately, the foods we’re drawn to when we’re stressed are usually very high in fat and carbs.
When you’re in the moment, feeling all those negative emotions swirling around, it sure can feel like a box of cookies or a bag of chips might make it all go away. And sure, eating those types of foods might distract you and make you feel good temporarily, but all that sugar could potentially exacerbate your negative feelings and make it even more difficult for you to cope with symptoms of stress and anxiety.
There are certainly healthier choices you can make that can boost those “feel good” chemicals in your brain while also lowering stress hormones. Unless you’re fine with getting stuck in an endless loop of relying on comfort foods to treat negative emotions that only become worse with every craving and binge, you’ll want to start replacing some of those comfort foods with the following list of healthy and more effective foods instead.
It may be the complete opposite of what you’re craving, but spinach and other leafy greens are rich in magnesium—a mineral that’s essential in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. Magnesium is used to help prevent anxiety and also treat ADHD. All you need is one cup of spinach to start reaping the benefits of this mineral’s natural stress-fighting power.
2. Whole grains
All carbohydrates trigger the brain to produce serotonin—one of those feel-good hormones that helps balance out your mood, sexual desires, appetite, sleep, memory and more. To naturally boost your serotonin levels, choose healthy whole grain breads, brown rice and oatmeal for a little more stress relief.
Potassium naturally helps to lower blood pressure and just half of an avocado contains more of it than one medium banana. You’ll also be nourishing your body with healthy B-vitamins, monosaturated fat and fiber when you incorporate avocados into your diet.
Oranges are full of vitamin C, which lowers cortisol and blood pressure while also giving the immune system a bit of a boost. According to the University of Maryland, large doses of vitamin C has been proven to reduce both physical and mental responses to stress.