Do you immediately crave comfort food when stress hatchets your happiness? Reaching for your preferred foods—whether they are high-carb, sugary, fatty, salty, creamy, or crunchy—can certainly make you feel better in the short-run, but if your level of stress has you frequently noshing on high calorie comfort foods, you’re going to create another source of stress: weight gain. Here are five healthy stress-busting foods that offer long-term comfort without the need to worry about your waist.
Despite your stress-driven proclivity for large helpings of pasta, make a small pasta side and partner it with a fish fillet, particularly tuna or salmon. Not only is fish a lean quality source of protein, it will help stabilize your blood sugar levels, which rollercoaster in response to stress. The tasty abundance of omega-3s in cold-water fatty fish also offers anti-inflammatory factors that can protect your stress-strained heart. Ditch the high-carb comfort foods and try a tuna sandwich, broiled salmon with fresh fruit salsa, or tilapia cakes with yogurt sauce.
When stress strikes and you get the shivers, soothe your soul with a warm, wonderful curry dish. Not only is curry a delectable combination of flavorful spices, it is also considered a heart healthy and brain-boosting condiment, perfect for protecting your heart against stress and giving you dietary support to stay focused when stress threatens to leave you scatterbrained.
Bananas, rich in B-vitamins and potassium, are super convenient to pack in your purse and peel when your stress levels start ratcheting upward. Research shows that B-vitamin deficiencies can lead to feeling stressed, anxious, and even depressed while a deficiency in potassium can lead to heart problems.
When stress launches your supercharged carb cravings, reach for whole grain breads before the jumbo bakery muffins or, worse, the box of highly-processed baked goods. Whole grain bread is higher in healthy complex carbohydrates, including fiber, as well as B-vitamins, which can help you deal with stress. For a quick and easy comfort food treat, spread almond butter on a piece of toast and top it off with fresh fruit for an extra dose of smart-carb nutrition.
If your everyday level of stress is high, just wait for PMS to hit and your ability to manage stressors may just plummet. The calcium and vitamin D in dairy-rich foods have been shown to ease PMS symptoms, such as mood swings and irritability, and can do double-duty by helping you fight fat and stay slim and trim despite your seemingly uncontrollable desire to emotionally (over)eat. The rich, creaminess of Greek-style yogurt may be all you need to soften the sharp edges of a stress-fueled bad mood.