So you’re overwhelmed and in need of a snack. What do you typically reach for in times of duress – a chocolate bar or celery sticks? If you picked the sweet treat, you’re not alone. Studies show people crave rich, high-calorie foods when stress is unrelenting, hence the term “comfort food.” But emotional eating can generate additional anxiety, not to mention it sabotages any ongoing weight loss efforts. Fortunately, there are a number of healthy food alternatives that are chock-full of stress-relieving vitamins.
Go nuts with almonds – A good source of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and E, almonds also contain magnesium and zinc. The B vitamins and magnesium are involved in the production of serotonin, which scientific studies suggest helps regulate mood and relieve stress, while vitamin E is an antioxidant that bolsters the immune system.
Grab a green, leafy veggie – Broccoli, kale and other dark green vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins that may help replenish our bodies in times of stress. Many vegetables also contain potassium, which may be calming on the nerves.
Opt for whole grains – Whole grains including bulgur wheat, quinoa, wheat pasta, oats and brown rice, contain plenty of B vitamins and healthy fiber. They also supply complex carbohydrates that do not spike blood sugar levels in the same way that simple carbohydrates can.
Milk does a body good – Low-fat or skim milk is very high in calcium and B vitamins, which help to build bones and protect nerve health. In addition, milk contains protein, which stabilizes blood sugar.
Check out some cottage cheese and fruit – Cottage cheese also contains protein and calcium. Try mixing it with a fruit rich in vitamin C like cantaloupe or oranges.
Beef up on the lean meat – Beef contains zinc, iron, and B vitamins. Be sure to select lean cuts of beef such as top sirloin, top round and tenderloin.
Beat the blues with berries – Blueberries are jam-packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, which scientific evidence suggests are potent stress busters. As an added bonus, they’re high in fiber and low in calories.
Your diet plays a crucial role in your overall well-being. In addition to incorporating these stress-fighting foods into your diet, sugar-free products sweetened with sucralose allow consumers to enjoy their favorite desserts and meals without worrying about the additional calories. For example, choosing sugar-free chocolate will save you 50 calories a day – or five pounds – by year’s end.
“Keeping blood sugar levels can help people feel better throughout the day, which means less stress on the body,” said Beth Hubrich, a registered dietitian with the Calorie Control Council. “By making simple diet substitutions, practicing portion control and making sure their diet is “color rich” by eating fruits and vegetables, consumers can enjoy their favorite foods and beverages without the fear of additional stress or weight gain.”
So the next time you crave sweets due to stress, avoid the full calorie fare and try reaching for a handful of blueberries or almonds. By eating wholesome foods on a regular basis, eventually your stress level will decrease and leave you less susceptible to food cravings.