We all have different stress triggers in life, whether it’s relationships, work, or self esteem problems. If you can’t seem to ever relax, your diet might be part of the reason why. When our brain is overwhelmed, it’s tempting to head to high-calorie, processed foods, which provide a fast boost before turning into a miserable crash. When you’re stressed, treat your body like a temple and your mental health will reap the benefits. Here are our favorite foods to reduce your daily anxiety and increase your energy.
1. Olive Oil
Step away from the ranch dressing and drizzle two tablespoons of wholesome olive oil on your salad.
Daily olive oil consumption has been proven to boost serotonin. We suggest going for EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) which has little processing and contains tons of healthy phenols. Store your olive oil in a dark and cool place and make sure you always put the lid on so benefits don’t decrease.
Many make a face when it comes to spinach, but we’re not talking about the wilted and limp variety .Add nuts, goat cheese, and fruit into a raw spinach salad for a refreshing treat. It’s high in folic acid, which leads our body to produce serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters will encourage relaxation vs hyped up adrenaline and increased cortisol. By far the tastiest way to get your folic acid.
3. Black Tea
If you need an invigorating, caffeinated beverage to get you through the morning, we suggest switching to black tea. Coffee leaves you with anxious jitters all day, but black tea actually lowers cortisol ad stress hormones faster than herbal tea drinkers! Tea contains all sorts of goodies like polyphenols, flavonoids, and catechins. Those are all fancy ways of saying that black tea will make your neurotransmitters happy.
4. Red peppers
Always our favorite sliced up and dipped in hummus, red peppers are chock full of Vitamin C, which has the ability to ward off those nasty free radicals and stress hormones. If you eat them raw (like our suggested hummus idea) the antioxidants will have way more staying power. However, if you prefer them in a stir-fry, you can also get your daily dose of Vitamin C that way.
5. Steel cut oats
Oats generally are full of fiber, which is great for your health and keeping your gut regular. However, steel cut oats contain the most concentrated amount of nutrients, and helps you stabilize your blood sugar. It’s when that blood sugar spikes and crashes (thanks refined sugar) that we encounter some problems.
6. Whole wheat pretzels
Looking to snack but don’t want to reach for a bag of chips? Munch on some whole wheat pretzels! Miniature or large, these are the ultimate salty snack. They provide a filling combination of carbohydrate and fiber which boosts our brain to produce more serotonin. Avoid those street cart pretzels or options at bars, which can be laden with grease and definitely aren’t whole wheat.
7. Dark chocolate
Chocolate can be a true lifesaver when it comes to reducing stress, but if you have to focus on the “bean to bar” ratio, which means more cacao and pure ingredients rather than processed goods by Hershey’s. When it doesn’t have extra sugar, dark chocolate can have antioxidant and emotional benefits to help chill you out.
8. Pumpkin seeds
Sometimes you just have to snack on something when you’re stressed, and raw or roasted pumpkin seeds can really hit the spot while curbing munchies. Pumpkin seeds (and nuts like almonds) have high levels of magnesium, which manages out stress and exhaustion levels. Sprinkle these into a salad or bowl for an addictive added crunch.
While you’re at it, why not have some strawberries with your dark chocolate for the ultimate romantic snack that also does your body good? These berries are surprisingly high fiber and have lots of vitamin C. Vitamin C, in many studies, has been shown to reduce cortisol levels that normally skyrocket during stressed out periods.
Yes, your favorite happy hour indulgence is also very good for you. Not only are they a powerful aphrodisiac, but these small and slimy treats are known for their whopping zinc content (400% more than the suggested dietary recommendation) which is good news. Zinc in itself is an antioxidant, and strengthens our immune system along with decreasing stress and inflammation.