Do you feel exhausted? Do you blow your top easily? The right nutrition plays a big role in managing periods of stress. These tips can help you be more relaxed.
You are what you eat. A nutritious, balanced diet is not only good for the body, but also brings benefits for general wellbeing. Healthy foods that are high in vitamins are key contributors to our bodies’ ability to regenerate, which includes getting a good night’s sleep. This is especially important to remember at times of stress. After all, our bodies are virtually programmed to make poor food choices when times are tough.
When we get stressed, most of us grab food just to steady our nerves – chocolate, crisps, fast food. These tasty snacks give us a quick injection of energy, but nothing that’s wholesome. The kick we get soon wears off. The best food to combat stress avoids these energy lows. So what are the best nutrition choices for steadying our nerves?
You’re all worked up, but you need to work? Eat a handful of nuts and drink a relaxing cup of herbal tea such as rhodiola, hawthorn, passion flower or valerian tea. Nuts are rich in B vitamins and minerals that calm our nerves.
Watch out that you don’t eat too much when stressed. Stress can make you gain weight. Under pressure, the body produces cortisol, which causes blood sugar levels to rise. The result is: fat tends to get stored in the abdominal region. Eat food that is filling to reduce any craving for sweet snacks. Try a handful of nuts or a boiled egg.
Are you feeling really low? Eat a spicy curry – so long as you can handle one. The essential oils in the curry help promote well-being. The gingerol in ginger is relaxing, and the capsaicin in peppers and chilli peppers is a mood-booster. Fermented sauces such as soy sauce contain a lot of salsolinol. This also helps to lift your mood.
You have to give a talk after lunch? Make yourself a light meal and avoid dishes with creamy sauces or fried food. Don’t eat bread or dessert either. The best choice are proteins – whether plant-based or from fish or poultry. Eat them with vegetables that have plenty of starch, such as potatoes, beans, peas or corn, and salad.
Do you struggle to fall asleep at night? Eat a banana. They contain a lot of tryptophan. This protein component is a key precursor of the happiness hormone serotonin and the sleep hormone melatonin, which regulates our sleep rhythm.
Our health consultation advisors are happy to help you. They will answer all of your nutrition-related questions and show you how to combat stress.
To ensure our brain works well, it needs high-quality protein, complex carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins; most importantly the B vitamins, but also vitamins C and E. Iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium are all absolutely essential minerals. If you eat a balanced diet of fresh food, your body should get everything it needs. Find out more on this here.
Expert who provided the editorial team with advice and input for this article. Séverine Godar (SVDE nutritionist, micronutrient therapist) works in the Helsana Health Consultation Service. She helps customers on issues to do with nutrition and health promotion.