Overeating when the stresses of everyday life become too much to bear can make your pants feel tighter, and possibly cause tiredness and unwanted heartburn. But did you know certain foods can actually increase your stress level? Researchers have found that specific foods actually heighten stress levels, particularly in individuals who are already feeling the pressure. Yet for many, one of the first reactions to help curb stress is to head straight to the vending machine, which is actually the worst solution for lowering stress. When you feel stressed out, remember to avoid these foods and drinks.
- That power-charge from a caffeine rush might feel good at first, but a sugar-laced frappuccino or mocha latte can actually increase your irritability level, making you more agitated about your surroundings than you were before the double shot of espresso.
- Spicy Food
- People who are stressed out cannot digest their food as easily because their metabolism is slower, causing food to stay in the stomach longer than normal. Spicy food can wreck havoc on the lining of the stomach, causing acid-reflux.
- A chocolate candy bar can feel and taste like a moment of heaven when stress levels are high, but actual results are anything divine. Blood sugar and an insulin spike can leave you irritable, and cause a food crash, resulting in new food cravings.
- After a stressful day at work, you might dream of kicking back and relaxing with an adult beverage at home. However, alcohol releases chemicals from the pituitary-adrenal axis, which can lead to a higher level of stress hormones in the body.
- Junk Food
- High sodium, high fat and sugary artificial ingredients affect chemicals in the body that naturally increase stress levels. On top of having zero nutritional value for your body, junk food can place your body into a nasty habit of repetitively craving the sugar, fat and salt combination.
Foods to Help Lower Stress
Feel like all of your stress-eating options are off the table? Not necessarily. There are good-tasting snacks that you can munch on while taking deep breaths to help lower your stress level.
- Hello, antioxidants. Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are all high in antioxidants and vitamin C, which are proven to help combat the effects of stress. In fact, people who ingest berries have lower blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol, the chemical that increases stress levels.
- In particular, cashews and walnuts are your best friend for snacking when stressed. Cashews are high in zinc, which fight depression and anxiety. While they are high in calories, you only need a small handful of nuts each day to reap the benefits that soothe your brain and your mood.
- Dark chocolate
- While sugar promotes stress, dark chocolate actually lowers blood pressure — in small amounts. It contains polyphenols and flavonols, which are two types of antioxidants that are good for the body. A once-a-week treat of a small portion of dark chocolate (not an entire bar) can help fight depression and keep you heart-healthy.
- The king of vitamin C, oranges also contain folate, vitamin A, vitamin B1, potassium, copper, pantothenic acid and calcium all brain power that helps keep you alert and wards off unpleasant moods.
- Green Tea
- There are low amounts of caffeine in green tea, but it also contains an amino acid that protects the body from some forms of cancer, and enhances mental performance.