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Eating Healthier Can Reduce Stress

According to The American Institute of Stress, 3 out of 4 American adults regularly experience physical symptoms that are attributed to stress, while a similar number reports having psychological symptoms caused by stress. We live in an era that is increasingly being defined by our society’s relationship with stress, whether due to strain on our careers, relationships, or independent mental disorders.

For this reason, it’s important to take any steps necessary to reduce the hold that stress has on our minds and bodies. One simple step we can take towards this goal is using our diet to eat healthier...

Foods to Eat
Having a balanced diet that is full of nutrients and vitamins is crucial to adapting your eating habits to reduce stress. Here are a few foods that you can add to your diet to help you accomplish this:

Leafy greens
Everyone knows that they should eat more dark and leafy greens. It’s practically a cliche to say it, at this point. But to hell with it! Let’s say it one more time. Foods like spinach and kale are full of nutrients like magnesium. A healthy amount of magnesium helps prevent headaches, which can be spurred on by stress. In addition, a large side of these greens on a dinner plate will help keep you from overeating on heavier foods that will make you feel bogged down.

A healthy mix of nuts
When we are stressed, it makes it very easy to burn through our energy without actually accomplishing anything. Nuts are another food that are full of necessary vitamins, such as vitamin B and vitamin E, which are frequently neglected by the general population. Keeping a good mix of almonds, pistachios, or walnuts around can help get an energy boost throughout the day.

Dark chocolate
Don’t worry. We’re not going to tell you that the only way to cut stress out of your diet is to eat salads and trail mix. It’s important to have snacks in your diet that feel like a real treat, and the best way to do that and get rid of stress at the same time is to eat a couple squares of dark chocolate, every day. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, and triggers dopamine receptors in the brain, both of which contribute to positive feelings, while washing away the effects of stress.

Foods to Cut Out
You can’t reduce your stress levels just by adding good foods into your diet. You also need to cut out some of the foods that are counterproductive to reducing stress. The irony about many of these types of foods is that people feel more inclined to eat them, when they are stressed. This makes it more imperative to cut these foods out:

Fat-laden food
An overabundance of fat in your food is a quick way to feel weighed down and lose energy, which makes it easier to feel the effects of stress. For this reason, dairy products and red meat, in addition with most processed foods, should be avoided or minimally partaken in. Having just one meal with lots of meat and cheese during the day is going to slow down your circulatory system and make you feel tired.

Sugar, and other simple carbohydrates
Carbohydrates give the body energy. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Simple carbohydrates, specifically sugar, are easily processed by the body and into the bloodstream. This causes a sudden spike of energy, but it is quickly followed by a crash. Eating complex carbohydrates allows your body to process that energy in moderation, leading to a healthier lifestyle throughout the day.

One cyclical problem with people who suffer from stress is the self-medication of caffeine. Because people try to get so much done throughout the day, there is a tendency to overload the body with caffeinated beverages. However, this is problematic for the nervous system, and will actually be counterproductive, to a certain point. For this reason, try to mitigate your caffeine intake to just that first cup of coffee or tea. Remember, too much of anything is a bad thing.

Excess alcohol
While moderate alcohol consumption seldom causes health problems, enjoying alcohol in excess can be a major drain on your health. What’s ironic is that many people indulge in alcohol in order to relax. However, the stress it causes on your body greatly contributes to problems with mood and energy. Contributing to cancer, liver disease, and even heart disease risk, alcohol is best enjoyed in limited quantities.