When you’re feeling stressed, it can be all too easy to be consumed by projects, deadlines or life in general. Sometimes eating becomes an afterthought, something you do when you have a few minutes spare. The problem with this is some foods can actually make you feel worse when you’re already under pressure. There are some foods you shouldn’t eat if you’re stressed, which I’m going to talk about below.
FOODS HIGH IN SUGAR
Such as: Pastries, donuts, ice-cream, sugary cereals, chocolate bars.
While it might feel like you get a burst of energy from foods high in sugar, it’s usually followed by a slump. This is caused by your blood sugar dropping dramatically and it often leads to you feeling tired and grumpy. If you are already stressed out, a sugar crash can make you feel even worse. Not to mention that refined sugar can lead to a rise in cortisol (stress hormone), making you feel worse and leaving you prone to poor immune function or weight gain.
Instead: Try a few squares of dark chocolate or even dark chocolate-covered almonds. Dark chocolate has antioxidants, known for their relaxing properties, as well as magnesium, which can help you to fight fatigue. Blueberries are another good choice because they are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants to help reduce stress.
FOODS THAT ARE HIGHLY PROCESSED
Such as: Cookies, chips, packaged meals.
When life is crazy-busy, it can be hard to resist the lure of a packaged meal that you just heat and eat. Yes, you will have something in your stomach. BUT – processed foods are usually full of refined sugar, preservatives, salt and fat. You would basically be feeding your body empty calories, as well as excess saturated fat. That can leave you feeling bloated, tired and uncomfortable. If you are already stressed, you might have noticed your digestive system already isn’t performing as well as it normally does. It’s best not to put it under more strain.
Instead: While packaged meals might seem like a good option, you need to nourish your body. Something like grilled salmon or a vegetable bowl with kale, brown rice and chickpeas is fantastic. Kale can help your body fight fatigue, while the chickpeas and brown rice are gentle on your stomach.
FOODS THAT ARE HIGH IN SALT
Such as: Fried foods, potato chips, pizza.
Sodium, aka salt, can make your body retain fluid, which can cause your heart to work harder and your blood pressure to increase. Not to mention you tend to feel bloated and uncomfortable. The problem with eating foods that are high in salt is these side effects may also decrease your energy. On top of this, too much salt can deplete your potassium stores, which affects your nervous system. And salty foods can make you feel thirsty, a sign of the early stages of dehydration, which can also leave you feeling tired and irritable.
Instead: Try eating sweet potato fries, avocado on toast or some almonds. Sweet potato has potassium, which can help with bloating and has positive effects on your nervous system. Avocado and almonds have magnesium, which can help to fight fatigue and headaches.
If you’re stuck in a bit of a stress loop, try not to forget your diet! Reaching for the right foods can help to balance your nervous system and your stomach, which can make a noticeable difference to how you feel. Eating well is part of the solution when it comes to reducing stress, and exercise can also play its part.
I hope this post helps you to manage stress.