Got Stress? Here are the top 20 Foods to Fight It

stress (1)Feeling overwhelmed, tired and/or cranky? It’s tempting to reach for some comfort foods. Foods that remind us of happier times when we felt safe. Unfortunately most of those of foods are fatty and sugary and tend to worsen our symptoms by causing sugar crashes and by increasing our cortisol levels.

Cortisol causes food cravings, and in women those cravings tend to be strongest for carbs, especially sweet foods, according to researchers at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center. The more of them we eat, the worse our mood gets. To make matters worse it triggers an enzyme in our fat cells (it converts cortisone to more cortisol). And the fat cells that are generally activated are ones around our middles, on our thighs and butts. As if you weren’t stressed enough!

So what can you do? Make sure you are getting enough B vitamins, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids can help ward off depression. Magnesium helps muscles relax; stimulates production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that eases anxiety and nervousness; and helps you fall asleep. And antioxidants help fight the damage that cortisol does to brain cells and memory.

B6 vitamins produce serotonin which calms our nervous system. Choose: legumes, tuna, chickpeas, avocados and baked potatoes with the skin

B12 vitamins help create GABA, which calms us. Choose: Greek yogurt, clams, chicken, salmon and sardines.

Folate creates dopamine to relax you and create feelings of pleasure. Choose: asparagus, Brazil nuts, oatmeal, lentils, avocados and leafy greens

Magnesium helps create dopamine to relax you. Choose: almonds, spinach, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, amaranth and tofu

Vitamin C boosts your immune system & fights stress causing free radicals. Choose: berries, oranges, broccoli, brussels sprouts and green and red peppers

Omega 3 Fatty Acids help regulate dopamine and serotonin: salmon, sardines, walnuts, flax-seed, flax oil, and chia seeds and edamame.

A meal of chicken, leafy greens or broccoli and a baked potato could actually be your new comfort food that makes you feel good. Bonus: top it off with a square or two of dark chocolate which has stress fighting antioxidants too!

You’ll feel better without the sugar crash and sluggish feelings.

Want to learn more on how to balance stress and your moods? Contact me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, to set up a complimentary strategy session.