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Everyone experiences stress sometimes. Regardless of age, often our first inclination is to soothe our anxiety with comfort food: cookies, mac and cheese, beer, chocolate and so on. However, the mood-boosting, short-term gains of carb-heavy options can actually worsen our mood soon after with sugar crashes, sluggishness and grumpiness.
Yet, food is definitely a good option for fighting stress. The key to "eating your feelings" is to choose foods that are rich in nutrients proven to lower stress levels and improve mood in both the immediate and long-term — and to incorporate these nutrients into your everyday diet — including:
- Omega-3 fatty acids that are important for brain and heart health and protect against the affect of chronic stress.
- Vitamin C for a healthy immune system and regulates levels of cortisol, a hormone produced in response to stress.
- Magnesium, which also regulates levels of cortisol.
- Vitamin Bs, especially Vitamin B9, which stimulates the production of dopamine, a brain chemical that soothes nerves and improves mood.
What foods contain these nutrients?
Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and B vitamins, salmon and other fish are delicious and easy options to sooth anxiety and keep your overall health in check. Try a simple roast with olive oil and lemon.
From chili peppers to bell peppers, no matter the color, peppers contain more than three times the amount of Vitamin C as an orange - tell that to your mom! Toss them in a salad or slice them up fresh and serve with hummus.
Outside of being simply delicious, avocados are rich in Vitamin C and various B Vitamins and also contain magnesium. Go ahead and feel indulgent while eating for your health: cut one in half, sprinkle with salt, and eat with a spoon like ice cream.
A generally very healthy option, almonds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as Vitamin Bs and magnesium. And the best part? Almonds are small enough to slip into your pocket for a quick snack when fighting stress while on the go.
There's a good reason that kale is known as a "superfood." The dark, leafy lettuce is rich in Vitamin Bs and absolutely packed with Vitamin C, which makes kale perfect for combatting stress. Though is kale not quite your thing? Check out its vegetable cousins broccoli and cauliflower for similar nutrients.
When it comes to fighting stress, our instincts to savor chocolate are not entirely wrong. Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium, so chocolate both lowers stress and makes our sweet tooth satisfied.
Better known for its sleep inducing qualities, the holiday favorite is also rich in Vitamin Bs. To combine this stress-fighting food with more typical comfort foods, go for a Thanksgiving sandwich.
These are just a few of many foods that fight stress while contributing towards better health. For the ultimately stress-reducing effect, focus on incorporating these foods into regular meals.