We have all been spectators and participants of emotional eating— that unfathomable craving to munch on all the unhealthiest of foods when triggered by stress. While we turn to food to feel better, all of it isn’t in tune with what our bodies and minds need. Surprised? Keep reading to know how food can help you calm your frayed nerves.
When we look at foods that help you feel calm, they are not your stress eating or happy eating favorites. Instead, these are meals and snacks that will help your system to be nourished with some specific nutrients. These foods will get you through the day feeling focused, even, and balanced.
1. Dark Chocolate
The chocolate cure is real! This goodie is packed with antioxidants and hence a much-favored choice in this list. A recent study suggests that eating chocolate and depression go hand in hand (1). Nibbling on an entire bar of chocolate after a stressful day or a long day at work is something we are guilty of. But, that’s not such a bad thing you know? There’s evidence that says that dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and also calm the storm in your head. It is safe to say that you can go ahead and allow yourself to snack on some dark chocolate once a week, or let yourself indulge and still stay on track with your weight loss results.
Often dubbed as butter fruit or a super food, avocados are creamy fruits that can totally stress-proof your body. Its glutathione content is particularly useful as it blocks the absorption of certain fats that are responsible for oxidative damage (2). Avocados are also packed with beta-carotene, folate, lutein, and vitamin E, all essential nutrients to keep you healthy. According to the Nutrition Journal, avocados are loaded with over 20 essential nutrients, avocados may keep you feeling satiated for a long time, and thus prevent you from unnecessary snacking (3).
Berries are such colorful and nutritious little things. There’s a whole world of berries— blueberries, blackberries, raspberry, etc. Have you ever wondered where these berries get their color from? There is a pigment called anthocyanin that is responsible for the deep colors in blueberries and blackberries (4). Berries have antioxidants and anthocyanin that help in the production of dopamine which is essential for the memory function, bettering the mood, and to maintain the mind and body coordination. Also, reportedly, if you are an ardent blueberry eater, you are sure to experience a boost in the production of white blood cells. The white blood cells are important for the immunity and equally critical for countering stress (5).
Ever thought slender stalks could help you keep calm? The high folate content in asparagus can actually turn down your stress and calm your mind (6). You can add this to salads, make vegetable dishes, or you can munch on boiled asparagus. If you didn’t know already, asparagus is one of the star foods listed in the top 20 list of the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) (7). This index measures the nutritional value and caloric content.
Tea is an emotion. After all, India runs on chai, right? It is one of the most recommended mind-calming beverages (8). Pour yourself some chamomile tea, as it is known to have a soothing effect on your mind. Switch off from the toxic screens of laptop, television, and phones while you sip some hot tea.
These nuts that look like miniature versions on the brain are a crunchy snack. What’s better is they have a cognitive benefit. You can munch away on walnuts knowing that it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols. These nutrients prevent memory loss and keep our brains active (9). If you are bored of eating them raw, toss them in a pan and roast them.
Stress is our worst enemy. It can make you want to pluck your hair out and at the same time it makes you gorge on unhealthy foods. When that happens, take the sea route and dig into some salmon. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory (10). They also act against stress. So, looks like we should have salmon for dinner on a stressful day.
Oatmeal is the most comforting food, isn’t it? Well, oatmeal isn’t just a comfort food. It also makes you feel good with the serotonin component in it. Additionally, serotonin helps in relieving stress (11). Start your day with oatmeal and you can keep stress away.
Whether it’s a leaking tap in your house or a painstakingly bad day at work, stress can knock at your door in several ways. You just need to stress-proof you’re eating to keep yourself from losing your mind. What are your comfort foods? Tell us in the comments below.