What to eat to beat stress
We all know what it’s like to feel stressed from time to time. And most of us have some coping mechanisms guaranteed to help us keep calm – whether that’s exercise, seeing friends or having a bubble bath and early night.
Today is National Stress Awareness Day – which aims to raise awareness of the importance of addressing and trying to prevent and cope with stress as best we can. Stress can be really bad for us in the long term, and it can cause and exacerbate diseases and other health problems.
At Ethos, we know the importance of a good diet – and when it comes to stress, the right foods can make a big difference.
So here are our top tips for how to manage stress through your diet.
Know what to avoid
Stress can often be a vicious cycle; we feel stressed, we eat foods that can exacerbate stress, we’re left less able to cope with stress, we turn to unhelpful foods, and so on.
Ultimately, we crave caffeine, sugar and fat when we’re stressed. But caffeinated stimulants, such as coffee and energy drinks, only make us more stressed and anxious.
Researchers have also found that high fat intake and a lack of nutrients can impact the balance of stress hormones in our body.
Opt for healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds and avocado, and instead of coffee, try switching to fresh fruit juice or drinks with lower caffeine, such as tea.
Prioritise the right foods, even when you don’t feel like it
Studies have shown that a diet high in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and legumes can help lower inflammation and oxidative stress, which are associated with higher risk of disease. A diet high in potassium can help to lower blood pressure, such as avocado or banana.
These foods also give us more energy, help us stave off colds and generally make us feel, and sleep, better. And if we feel better, we’re more likely to be able to cope and overcome stress with a clear and positive mindset.
Fuel your body
Sometimes, being stressed can make us forget to eat. But research has found that stress uses up a lot of energy, and therefore we need a diet full of all the nutrients our body needs.
This means fuelling on slow-release complex carbs such as wholegrains and oats. Carbohydrates have also been found to make the brain produce more serotonin, the feel-good chemical, so they’re a win-win.