Eat Your Stress Goodbye
For over 10 years, my husband and I have managed elite properties for high-net-worth individuals, this involves long hours, last-minute planning, and no chance of a schedule or routine. I also started my own business about 3 years ago (because hey, what’s a little bit more on my plate if it is already overflowing?!) and I often get asked how I manage it all while still having a resemblance of a life with my husband.
Well, the truth is, I didn’t handle it all that well. I reached burnout after a miscarriage- I realized it was time to start practicing what I teach. I started eating to fuel my body, not to punish it.
I love that saying ‘you are what you eat'. I was eating on the go, snacking on low nutritional foods, drinking far too much wine, and getting very little sleep. This showed not only in my weight but in my moods, my lack of concentration, and my very low energy.
The negative effects of stress on the body can be linked to SO many long-term illnesses such as depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, and diabetes.
Stress also increases our levels of cortisol, which has an intricate relationship with the hormone insulin, which controls our blood sugar. When cortisol levels increase, the cells of our body can become resistant to insulin. In turn, this may lead to an increase in blood sugar, weight gain (especially around the belly), and potentially Type 2 Diabetes
If you too have been feeling more stressed out than usual lately, because of Covid, because of work, because of this ever-increasingly confusing world we now live in, it’s important to know which foods are best to choose and which to avoid when it comes to combating stress and helping you to deal with feelings of anxiety.
The best way to fight stress is to have a healthy, balanced diet that includes a moderate amount of each of the different food groups.
Filling up on foods such as whole grains, leafy vegetables, and lean proteins as the basic staples of your diet is the best way to ensure that your body gets the optimum amounts of nutrients to fight both physical and mental health problems. Choosing these stress-busting foods will help to heal and calm your mind permanently, rather than providing a temporary fix.
Some of my best stress-fighting foods include:
- Avocado – Avocados are a creamy and versatile fruit that can be eaten in a range of different ways whether you enjoy it raw, made into sauces, dressings, and dips, or in a smoothie. These nutrient-dense fruits have the properties to stress-proof your body, thanks to their high glutathione content which specifically blocks the intestinal absorption of certain fats which cause oxidative damage. Avocados also contain higher levels of vitamin E, folate, and beta-carotene than any other fruit, which boosts their stress-busting properties. However, be careful with portion control when eating avocado, as they are high in calories.
- Blueberries – If you’re feeling stressed out and reaching for snacks, swapping sweets or chips for this superfood is a great way to help you deal with your stress levels and achieve a higher level of calm. Blueberries have some of the highest levels of antioxidants, especially anthocyanin, which means that this berry has been linked to a wide range of health benefits including sharper cognition, better focus, and a clearer mind – all of which can help you to better deal with stress.
- Chamomile Tea – Of course, it’s not all about what you’re eating when it comes to managing stress; what you’re drinking can also alleviate or worsen the stress you're feeling. Drinking liquids that are high in sugars and caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks, or soda, can actually increase your stress levels if consumed regularly. Chamomile tea has long been used as a natural bedtime soother, and it has also been used in clinical trials, which determined that chamomile tea is effective in reducing the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.
- Chocolate – Although it’s usually seen as an unhealthy treat, there is an undeniable link between chocolate and our mood. (No more PMS guilt!!) Studies have shown that eating chocolate can actually make you happier. However, that doesn’t mean that you can start munching on chocolate bars every time you're stressed out – chocolate works best as a de-stressor when eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Dark chocolate in particular is best for you, as it contains more flavonols and polyphenols, two hugely important antioxidants which can help combat stress.
- Oatmeal – Oatmeal gives me a warm hug from the inside and is my go-to comfort food, it has a large number of healthy properties to actually make you feel better from the inside out. As a complex carbohydrate, oatmeal causes your brain to produce higher levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin, helping you to feel calmer and less stressed. Studies have shown that children who choose oatmeal for breakfast tend to be much sharper throughout the morning in school compared to those who had box cereals.
- Pistachios – another food that is great for snacking on and can also help to combat stress and anxiety in the long term is pistachios. Studies have found that simply eating two small, snack-size portions of pistachios per day can lower vascular constriction when you are stressed, putting less pressure on your heart by further dilating your arteries. Along with this, the rhythmic, repetitive act of shelling pistachios can actually be quite therapeutic!
- Green Leafy Vegetables – leafy, green vegetables should be a pivotal part of anyone’s diet. Along with helping to combat stress, leafy greens are full of nutrients and antioxidants which help to fight off disease and leave your body feeling healthier and more energized. Dark leafy greens, for example, spinach, are especially good for you since they are rich in folate, which helps your body to produce more mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which is a ‘feel-good’ chemical.
Planning your meals wisely is key to not only staying physically fit and healthy but also to staying mentally strong and being able to best manage your levels of stress. Knowing which foods to avoid and which are the best to reach to snack on when you’re feeling worried or anxious is important to helping you get control over your stress and your health.
BIO: Always remember, you can't fill someone else’s cup if yours is empty. If you are ready to let go of your extra weight for good without cutting out all your favorite foods, contact Cath Beukes at anewunutrition.com
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