Everyone deals with stress in their own way. Some people work out. Others clean. Still others meditate. But for most of us, when stress strikes, the biggest urge we have is to eat. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if you learn to snack the right way. We pored over the latest nutritional information and have compiled a list of the top five snacks for you to nosh whenever stress strikes.
Reduce stress with the right snacks
Stress less snack #1: Chips
What you crave: Potato chips
What you should reach for: Baked tortilla chips and salsa
Salty and crunchy, baked tortilla chips mimic the taste of our potato faves without the added fat and calories. What’s more, because they’re usually made with corn, they’re high in fiber and iron. Dip them in a sweet or tangy salsa (try this homemade salsa) to add a healthful zip (vitamins like vitamin C and magnesium) and you get a heart-healthy snack that’s packed with soul-soothing nutrients.
Stress less snack #2: Frozen yogurt
What you crave: Ice cream
What you should reach for: Frozen yogurt
There’s nothing quite like a bowl of ice cream to soothe a stressed out soul. The only problem? Ice cream is loaded with a body bloating number of calories and fat. So instead of the creamed variety, why not reach for frozen yogurt? You’ll get the same icy-cool buzz with half the fat and calories. And because yogurt is loaded with calcium and tryptophan (which converts to the mood stabilizer serotonin) you’re bound to feel better after a few small spoonfuls.
Stress less snack #3: Fruit
What you crave: Fruit juice
What you should reach for: A piece of fresh fruit
Sweet drinks like juice cause your blood sugar levels to spike – and if you’re stressed, you’ll crash even harder. So instead of a glass of fruit juice, get your sweet fix straight from the source and reach for a piece of fruit or try this fresh fruit salad. It will give you the sweetness you’re craving without the crash-and-burn effect of juice (and as an added bonus, fruit is loaded with heart-healthy vitamins and loads of fiber).
Stress less snack #4: Fish
What you crave: Fried chicken
What you should reach for: Baked fish
When you’re super stressed, it may seem like a good idea to reach for a savory piece of fried food like chicken – even if you aren’t that hungry! But because anything fried is loaded with fat and calories, you’ll pay for it in the long run. Instead of sabotaging your diet and ruining your appetite for your next meal, have an early lunch or dinner – bake some fresh breaded fish. You’ll save calories, satisfy your need for a real meal, and benefit from the fish’s ticker-friendly omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Plus, the lean protein will help stabilize your blood sugar levels, which tend to fluctuate when you are under stress.
Stress less snack #5: Chocolate
What you crave: Chocolate
What you should reach for: Chocolate (there’s no substitute!)
Recent studies have proven a heart-healthy bite of this dark and sweet treat can actually help you unwind during high-strung times. That’s because chocolate, especially dark chocolate, stimulates the body to release endorphins (a feel good chemical), giving you an all-natural high. And all you need are a few small pieces to feel the calming effects. So the next time you’re stressed, let go of the guilt, and have a few small bites of a quality dark chocolate bar. It will ease your stress and do your body good. (Live longer with dark chocolate.)