You’re neck-deep in work, your credit card bill just arrived, and you just found out that your mother-in-law is coming to visit for three weeks. Things just can’t get any worse, and you turn to one of the oldest forms of stress-relief in the world: eating.
But before you plunge into that bottomless bag of chips, consider binging on these 10 foods. They contain chemicals that may actually relieve stress, by unleashing your body’s natural ‘happy hormones’ and boosting your body’s ability to handle all the crap that life is throwing your way.
Fish contain B vitamins, particularly vitamin B6 and B12. The body uses those vitamins to create serotonin. There are even studies that show that vitamin B12 deficiency can trigger depression. Our suggestions: grilled salmon, or if you’re stuck in the office cafeteria, a tuna salad or tuna sandwich.
Or, take it a step further and order maki. Aside from the benefits you get from eating tuna, the seaweed wrap contains panthothenic acid, which boost your adrenal glands (one of the parts of your body that helps you cope with stress). A deficiency in panothenic acid has been linked to chronic fatigue and a lower immune system.
Almonds not only have the B vitamins, but magnesium (yet another component in the body’s production of seratonin). You’ll also flood your body with Vitamin E, which can block all the nasty free radicals that your panic attack has released into your system. Too many free radicals can lead to heart disease and cancer.
This vegetable is rich in folic acid. Research has shown that folic acid can lower anxiety and panic, and can even help with depression. Serve broccoli steamed, or mix it into a stir-fry.
Carbohydrates boost the body’s levels of serotonin, and also give you a quick energy boost. That serves you well when you have a deadline to meet and all you want to do is wallow on your sofa and watch ‘Glee’ reruns.
However, too many carbohydrates in your diet can make you fat (and there’s nothing worse than being stressed and fat). So instead of finishing off a box of donuts, go for complex carbohydrates like wholewheat pasta, wholewheat bread, and brown rice. These take longer to digest, so you stay full (and cheerful) for a longer time.
And how’s this for a winning combination? A complex carb (like oatmeal cookies) with a tall glass of milk. Milk contains B2 and B12, plus antioxidants. Special bonus: doesn’t this remind you of your childhood?
Red meat’s gotten a bad rep lately, but here’s a reason to indulge on a steak. Beef contains B vitamins, steak, and iron. Iron deficiency can make you feel weak and tired, just when you need to rally your spirits and prove to yourself that you can get yourself out of this mess.
But, a word of caution: beef does have a lot of cholesterol and fat, and too much of that will make you feel sluggish (or lead to a coronary). Look for tenderloin, sirloin, top round and other lean cuts.
Not only do blueberries have antioxidants and vitamin C, they’re rich in fiber. This can help relieve the cramps or the constipation that can often happen when you’re depressed, tired, or sleep-deprived. They’re low in calories, so you can pop as many as you like without worrying about your weight. Unless, of course, they’re served on a big fat slice of cheese cake.
Which reminds us—if you’ve got a cheesecake fix but can’t afford the calories, mix blueberries with cottage cheese, which is also rich in B vitamins. You get the same combination of tartness, saltiness and creaminess.
We won’t lie: the alcoholic content in wine does give you that mellow, relaxed feeling. But unlike beer (or a bottle of tequila) it offers the health benefit of reducing your risk for heart disease. So go ahead, pour yourself a glass, and toast to a better day.