Sometimes you have a day when things are everywhere and everything is moving a million miles a minute. Whether it is work, social responsibilities, or school assignments, being overwhelmed in the midst of everyday chaos can be an all too familiar norm. On these days in particular, it is important to find ways to take care of yourself and nourish your body. In addition to taking deep breaths and taking occasional breaks during high stress, focus on eating foods that naturally calm you down. You may be surprised how much better you will feel when you choose the type of food that gives your body real support for your emotions from the inside out.
But what foods can calm your whole being after just a bite or two? Before we get into the specifics, let’s talk about why you crave certain foods when you feel unattached and overwhelmed. According to Food Mood Girl, Lindsey Smith, who writes extensively on the subject in her book Eat Your Feelings, stress triggers a fight or flight response in your body that sends blood to your limbs – that is, away from your stomach – and increases your level of cortisol (also known as the stress hormone). And when you are constantly under a lot of stress, she writes, it can be particularly difficult for your body because you can never really return to a normal, stable level.
Because your body wants to get back to this normal state as soon as possible, you may crave sugary, salty, or high-carbohydrate foods to “replace” the energy you lose when you are stressed.
But, according to Smith, things don’t really work that way: “The truth is, these foods only increase your stress levels throughout the day,” she writes in her book.
So if junk food isn’t going to lower your stress levels, what will it do? Smith writes that a good place to start is to find foods that contain magnesium, a vitamin that is responsible for brain function among other important roles in the body. Foods like bananas, spinach, figs, almonds, and beans are great sources of magnesium.
Another item to add to your stress reliever shopping list, Dr. Oz, is any food that helps increase the production of the neurotransmitter GABA in your brain, which essentially acts like a messenger substance to regulate various body functions, including reducing stress. According to the outlet, foods rich in GABA include hummus, oolong tea, and shrimp.
If you haven’t found a snack that hits your stress-reducing sweet spot yet, Dr. Josh Ax, DNM, CNS, DC, Founder of DrAxe.com, bestselling author of Eat Dirt, and co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, tells Elite Daily that eating anti-inflammatory foods can be a natural anti-anxiety remedy because it is essential for what is known as “neurotransmitter synthesis.” are extremely important. This is basically a fancy way of describing the way your brain sends signals to the rest of your body and, as a result, how it balances your moods and the way you react to stress. According to Dr. Ax things like green leafy vegetables, blueberries, pineapples, salmon, and walnuts.
Dr. Ax also recommends staying away from foods that have a high glycemic index when you are stressed, as it can only make your anxiety worse.
Foods with a high glycemic index, according to Dr. Ax versus Elite Daily, are broken down into sugar very quickly in the body. As a result, they hit your blood in one fell swoop, but they don’t hold up your energy for very long.
“Sugar and refined carbohydrates can cause blood sugar highs and lows throughout the day that increase anxiety, nervousness, and fatigue,” explains Dr. Ax. “These foods can cause mood swings and alter your energy levels, making it harder to control your anxiety symptoms.”
If you want to keep your blood sugar on an even keel for stress reasons, Dr. Ax to stay away from refined foods such as baked goods, sweetened beverages, fast foods, fried foods, and processed meats (e.g. deli meats). and refined grains (think of foods like fig bars or granola). I know this can be a little tricky when the only thing you want is cake, cake, and maybe a little more cake, right? Instead, says Dr. Ax, focus on feeding your body healthy fats, unrefined carbohydrates, and lean protein.
“To improve anxiety symptoms, make sure that you add vitamin B foods, foods rich in magnesium, foods rich in calcium, and omega-3 foods to your diet,” he tells Elite Daily, adding that foods like eggs, kefir, grass – Fed beef, fresh fruits and vegetables, and unrefined grains (think sprouted bread or quinoa) help keep your stress levels to an absolute minimum.
Sounds like a pretty yummy way to keep calm, doesn’t it?