When you're stressing out, do you devour chips and cookies like there's no tomorrow? You're not alone. Women tend to reach for junk foods when stressed out, but your snack habits could be making your situation even worse — not to mention hurting your waistline. Here are some foods to fill your diet with when you know you're going to have a particularly chaotic week. (Don't forget to step away from your desk and enjoy your lunch — the break will do you good and maybe even allow you to fit in some stress-busting exercise too).
Yes, it can help make you strong like Popeye — it's rich in iron, which is good for your muscles. But spinach is also a source of magnesium, which can help you feel less tired and may help prevent headaches. Pack a spinach salad for lunch or even a smaller version as a snack. Alternatively, have some for breakfast or dinner (this frittata recipe would suit either your morning or evening meal!).
Fatty fish such as salmon are a good source of essential omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower cortisol levels — the stress hormones. Smoked salmon on a whole-grain bagel makes a great, filling breakfast. Or have your salmon at dinner; try a delicious salmon burger for a new take on an old favourite!
Like salmon, avocados (the main ingredient of guacamole) are rich in essential fatty acids, so they'll help lower your stress hormones. Plus, eating guacamole can help satisfy your need to have something crunchy the same time. Enjoy your guac with a healthier, whole-grain chip or pita crisps rather than with the regular varieties of munchies.
If you tend to reach for sweets when you're feeling stressed, the good news is that chocolate can help ease your stress levels. But that candy bar from the vending machine isn't the way to go. Keep handy a bar of high-quality, antioxidant-rich dark chocolate. And remember, a small square or two is all you need — everything in moderation!
If you guzzle caffeine when stress hits an all-time high, try switching to green tea instead. Green tea still contains caffeine, but less per cup compared to coffee (the only teas that are caffeine-free are herbal teas and tisanes). The advantage of green tea is that it contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which can help lower stress levels and relax you. Enjoy a cup of green tea instead of coffee for when you crave something hot to drink.
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