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Foods to Eat During Stress and Anxiety

Reviewed By,
Shanumukha Priya
M-Phil, Food Science & Nutrition 

Did you know that food plays an important role in stress management? “You are what you eat”! Believe it or not, your body and frame of mind passively depends on the food you eat.

Several studies show that individuals who are on a poor diet- high in processed meat, chocolates, sweet desserts, fried foods, refined cereals and high-fat dairy products are more prone to stress and depression than the ones who eat a diet rich in whole grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables and fish.

Stress and Anxiety
Stress and Anxiety

It is also observed that people tend to over eat during stress and anxieties, which leads to obesity.

The fact that our lives are already stressful due to the responsibilities saddling up every day, good food can help us to sooth down to some extent.

Foods like fruits and fresh green vegetables or a glass of freshly crushed seasonal fruit juice can calm down the storm within us.

Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety symptoms
Overeating due to stress

Anxiety is an emotional spike that triggers due inconvenient situations and abrupt events.

According to scientific studies, people undergoing severe stress can have nervous breakdown and other health concerning problems.

Here are a few signs that indicate  stress in you;

  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant indulgence with negative thoughts
  • Agitation, inability to relax
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sense of loneliness and isolation
  • Frequent colds
  • Overeating
  • Bad sleep cycle
  • Being lazy and unenthusiastic
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

Stress Relieving Foods

Food can have both positive and negative impact on your body and mind.

According to scientists, this is a two-way process: stress and depression evidently causes inflammation, and inflammation being unhealthy triggers anxiety and obesity.

Though severe anxiety cases needs therapy and medication, some foods can act as stress busters in milder cases of anxiousness. Hence, eating the right diet can help in self-help stress management.

The following nutrition will help you to overcome the psychological difficulties.

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acids during stress
Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids helps to combat the inflammation and also acts as an overall mood booster.

High intake of omega -3 fatty acids such as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is associated with increased grey matter volume in the brain, which  helps in improving depression.

Foods: Walnuts, olive oil, avocado, flax seeds, oily fish like sardine, tuna, mackerel and salmon, cod liver oil.

Dosage:. Take 1 to 3 grams of omega 3 fatty acids.

Foods rich in complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates helps in stress
Complex carbohydrates helps in stress

As the neurotransmitter is responsible for our mood, complex carbs help to increase the serotonin level in the brain and that helps the brain to relax.

Complex carbs are packed with  fiber, vitamins and minerals compared to the refined or simple carbohydrates.

Foods: Quinoa, whole grain oats, brown rice, 100% whole grain bread, raw fruits and vegetable.  

Dosage: Eat complex carbohydrate sources of foods in the regular meals, 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables

Foods high in B Vitamins

Green leafy vegetables for stress relief
Green leafy vegetables

B Vitamins, B12 and B1 are the elements that stimulate the neurotransmitters and combats stress. If stress is what troubles you, eat more of these!

Foods: poultry, eggs, meat, fish, dairy, fortified whole grains and dark leafy greens.

Dosage: Eat an egg, drink a glass of milk, eat meals prepared from whole grains, eat 100gm of dark green leafy vegetables

Proteins for breakfast

Proteins for stress relieving
Proteins for stress relieving

Protein is the most important nutrient required to make a healthy start to your day..  Eating protein in moderation keeps you full for longer .

Protein keep your blood sugar levels more steady. It fights the anxiety by providing good energy level throughout the day.

Foods: Eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, whole grain oats and other cereals and lean meats.

Dosage: Consume 60 gm of proteins in a day for relief from stress

Drink Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea to de-stress yourself!
Chamomile tea to de-stress yourself!

According to the recent studies, chamomile tea acts as a tranquilizer during anxieties.

Dosage :Drinking 3-4 cups of chamomile tea regularly keeps  depression at bay.

Stay Hydrated!

Water helps in stress relieving
Water helps in stress relieving

Hydration is very important for de-stressing and maintaining energy balance. Drink sufficient water throughout the day, this can bring your stress level down.

Ideally 2 litres – 3 litres of water should be compulsory.

One must avoid nicotine, alcohol, foods rich in omega 6, refined carbohydrates and caffeine to balance the stress level.  

Other than nutrition, physical activities like exercise or swimming helps to recover from the stress and also, adequate quality sleep helps to reduce anxieties.

Also Read: 9 Most Healthiest Foods in the World!


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