7 Steps: Eat to beat stress
Combat anxiety and reduce your stress with these 7 simple diet tweaks. *Spoiler alert! The answer isn't eat more doughnuts - sorrrry!
There’s never been a better time to introduce foods into your diet that combat anxiety. We asked Registered Nutritional Therapist, Virginia Hills , and founder of Virginia Hills Nutrition for her top tips. Here’s her ultimate 7 Step guide to stress busting food habits:
1. DARK CHOCOLATE DELIGHT
Spinach, swiss or rainbow chard and dark chocolate (minimum 70%) are a great source of magnesium – a vital mineral that your body needs to help calm your nervous system and it’s quickly depleted by stress. So add a handful of greens to a bowl of soup at lunchtime. And treat yourself to 3 or 4 squares of dark chocolate as a snack in the evening.
2. GO NUTS FOR NUTS
Stop snacking on quiiiiiite so many biscuits and cakes – and satisfy yourself with a handful of nuts. Almonds (high in vitamin E known for preventing anxiety), walnuts or Brazil nuts (rich in Selenium that helps reduce inflammation which is often increased during anxiety) make excellent snack choices.
3. GET VIT D SAVVY
Oily fish, particularly wild salmon and sardines that are high in vitamin D, mackerel, anchovies or herring – all help balance your nerves and support your brain. For those who don’t like fish, avocados, chia or flax seeds are good sources too.
4. AN EGGS-CELLENT IDEA
Eggs, nature’s multivitamin – contain an amino acid that helps produce serotonin, the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness – it’s even important in memory function. This hormone impacts your entire body. It enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other. Serotonin also helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion.
5. GREEN TEA IS A GO, GO!
Sorry, but borrrrring as it might sound, you’ll feel a massive benefit in swapping your coffee or tea for green tea. It’s lower in caffeine and contains theanine that calms your nervous system and reduces anxiety. Maybe treat yourself to the odd coffee (definitely no more than one a day) and make a replacement swap on certain days of the week.
6. FOCUS ON WHOLE GRAINS
Load up with wholesome wholegrains (brown or wild rice, quinoa, spelt, rye) and legumes (chickpeas – hello hummus – lentils, cannellini, haricot or black eyed beans). Wholegrains abound with heart-healthy soluble fibre that controls appetite while regulating blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In fact, a study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a diet rich in whole grains significantly decreased the risk for heart disease.
7. EAT THE RAINBOW
Our days may feel very monotonous right now, but the food we eat should be all about variety. Make sure you’re eating a diverse range of fresh fruits and as many fresh vegetables as you can to incorporate a variety of different plant chemicals, vitamins and minerals into your diet that are quickly depleted by stress. Download Virginia’s free handy ‘Rainbow Tracker’ chart by subscribing to her newsletter here (virginiahillsnutrition.com) to help you come up with different veg/fruit to add to your weekly shop.