What's better than starting your week with a post on STRESS!! With the upcoming holidays and life, sometimes it feels like stress can get the better of us! But have no fear, there are foods you can eat and behaviors that can really help you stress less!
Traffic, fight with your spouse, over committing, under-preparing, money, children and the list can go on and on. There are so many reasons and circumstances that put our bodies and minds in a state of stress. Our bodies were made to experience some types of stress - for instance encountering a bear in the woods - we have an innate response to physical triggers that send a waterfall of hormones and body systems into effect.
The problem is our bodies still react, in many ways, the same way to traffic as they do to a bear in the woods. Blood pressure increase, increased heart rate, release of stress hormones (good and bad), it even has an effect on our immunity. For a short period of time this is usually not a huge deal, the problem is that we tend to dwell on stressors and in turn can cause increased and long term stress on our bodies. This not only has short term effects but can also have negative long term affects. Here are some helpful ways to aid in decreasing acute and chronic stress.
- Eat a balanced diet: Eat plenty of whole grains such as oatmeal, 100% whole wheat bread, barley, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and many more. Focus on lean sources of protein: poultry, eggs, beans and legumes, lean cuts of beef (anything with "loin" in the name is a lean cut), low fat/non-fat dairy (including non-fat Greek yogurt). Fruits and veggies!! Anything! Try to eat at least 5 servings a day and if you're already there? Aim for more! Challenge yourself to eat 1 more fruit and/or veggie every day.
- Aim for 5-6 small meals per day or 3 meals and 2-3 snacks. This will help keep your cortisol levels (a major stress hormone) down; will keep your blood sugar steady and your metabolism going. Try to eat every 3-4 hours.
- Focus on Fruits and vegetables: They have tons of stress fighting vitamins and minerals and help fill you up with very few calories - Helping to keep weight stable and stress down. Done! Try to get in at least 1 fruit or vegetable at each meal or snack.
- Move more! Exercise is so important for overall health. If you aren't exercising now - don't stress - start somewhere! Take a 20 minute walk after dinner, try a zumba class, ride your bike, play with your kids; start there and work your way up. If you already exercise, add an extra day, add an extra 10 minutes or increase your workout intensity. Exercise helps improve your mood by releasing good feeling hormones (like serotonin), aids with weight control, helps reduce cancer, heart disease and many chronic illnesses - the list goes on and on. Exercise!
- Take 15-20 minutes every day just for YOU! Read a book, chat with a friend, spend some time with God, read the bible, sit and space out, anything that relaxes you!
What to eat for stress relief:
- Salmon: It is high in omega 3 and B vitamins and has been shown to boost serotonin levels as well as suppress production of anxious hormones. Other great sources of omega 3's: tuna, sardines, walnuts, flax seeds and omega 3 enriched eggs.
- Whole grains: They help produce serotonin and help fight anxieties negative effects. They are full of fiber which aid in digestion and keeps hunger at bay. Try oatmeal, barley, whole wheat pasta, brown rice and 100% whole wheat bread.
- Walnuts (and other nuts too): Nuts help lower blood pressure and decrease stress on the heart. Just be careful with portion size - 1 serving = 1 oz. or about the size of your palm. Try to eat ~1-2 servings per day.
- Oranges: And other foods high in vitamin C aid in lowering stress hormones and help with increasing immunity! Other foods high in vitamin C are strawberries, kiwi, peppers (all colors), broccoli and green leafy veggies like spinach and kale.
- Spinach: It is high in both magnesium and calcium (and a ton of other nutrients) which help our bodies react to stress more efficiently. Try it on pizza, in egg scrambles or throw it into your salad or smoothies (you can't taste it!).
Consult with me and other Dieticians at Doctor Insta and get INSTAnt health consults combined with customized diet & nutrition charts.