Life is stressful; it’s almost an inevitable part of modern life. Stress can often lead to poor food choices: let’s face it, it’s not usually a salad that will hit the spot and make us feel better when life moves 100 miles an hour. But there are small tweaks you can make to your eating habits to help relieve the tension of everyday life.
Perhaps slightly controversial considering how many of us rely on our morning cup of coffee, but it may be beneficial to reduce consumption to relieve symptoms of stress. Although coffee gives you an immediate boost when you need to stay focused or be productive, it can make you jittery and on edge, thus adding to stress levels. Regular high caffeine intake can lead to mood dips and dependence (caffeine is a drug after all). Try limiting your intake to one or two cups a day (slowly if you drink way more – being a drug, the withdrawal effects won’t be pretty), and try not to drink any after 2pm. A good night’s rest can also help to alleviate stress. As caffeine can stay in your system for 8 hours, you don’t want it to disrupt your sleep so try chamomile tea before hitting the sack. It’s relaxing properties can help to encourage sleep.
Eat your Greens
A given not only when you’re pushed to your limit, it’s important to eat your greens at the best of times. But the consumption of certain vitamins and minerals can help to boost our mood and promote feelings of wellbeing. Asparagus contains high levels of folic acid which can ease feelings of stress and produces dopamine (that happy hormone) to the brain. Grill, roast or steam your asparagus to enjoy as a side dish or add to salads or pasta.
Leafy greens like spinach also contains folate and is high in magnesium, which can help to calm your nervous system and regulate levels of the primary stress hormone (cortisol) in your body. Swap lettuce in your salad or sandwich for spinach, wilt into soups and stews, or blitz into your protein shake for an effortless stress-reliever.
It’s tempting to reach for the ice cream or XXXL bar of chocolate when you’ve had a bad day (and we’ve all been there done that), but processed, sugary foods are often the culprit for mood swings and anxiety. Our bodies break down refined sugar really quickly, causing our blood sugar levels to spike and then plummet, leading to reduced energy levels and the craving for more sugar. Try to resist this coping mechanism in stressful times to avoid this crash and burn cycle. Instead, have a batch of these Berry Oat Bites to reach for when you just need to satisfy your sweet craving without all the additives that can cause these extreme highs and lows.
Berry Oat Bites
Guideline per bite (60kcal, P:1g, C: 11g, F:1g)
1 small banana, mashed
1/8th tsp baking powder
120ml milk of your choice
Handful of raspberries
1. Pre heat the oven to 160 degrees C.
2. Mix all the ingredients together, adding the raspberries at the end.
3. Line a 6-cup cupcake tin with parchment liners and divide the mixture between them.
4. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
4. Focus on your Food
Taking the time to focus on and enjoy your food can help to improve anxiety levels. Instead of being a multitasking superhero and wolfing down your lunch in front of your computer screen, take yourself away from your desk and focus on your meal. Chewing thoroughly will slow your eating pace, giving both your gut and brain time to register that you’re full. You’ll appreciate your food more, and you’ll be less likely to overeat, as your mind won’t be so focused elsewhere.
Although these tips won’t eradicate stress, these small changes may help to make life that bit more bearable.