Omega-3s to the Rescue: Why I Eat Them When I'm Stressed and Go-To Recipes

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When I am feeling a little overwhelmed, my natural instinct is to load up caffeine, simple carbs, processed foods, sodium and sugar — “anything to get through the day” is my default battle cry. But I play that scene through and I know it will compound the problem of overwhelming me with lethargy and fuzzy thinking.

So, instead, I ignore that part of my inner self and cling to basic actions that have proven time and again to be exactly what I need during times of stress. I make sure my physical and emotional health are well-tended so that I have maximum personal resources to deal with the hecticness.

For me, that means fiercely protecting my morning devotionals, rather than hitting the snooze button. (Actually, if I need to set an alarm, that’s my body’s way of saying I’m not getting enough sleep, so I fix that, too.) I protect my exercise time, particularly if I think I don’t have the time to exercise. And on the food front, I up the Oomega-3 fatty acids in my diet.

There are lots of studies out there that point us in the direction of Omega-3s for mood health, but that’s not why I turn to them. I do it because, quite simply, I feel better equipped to face the craziness of this messy life. My personal go-tos: tuna, salmon, sardines, eggs, shrimp, walnuts, strawberries, dark leafy greens, cabbage and cauliflower. I buy these ingredients and fill the dinner calendar with recipes starring them, and I cut down on processed foods, even eliminating them entirely if life is super-stressful. And it’s that simple.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few recipes that will get you started.

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The staple of my Omega-3 boost is probably salmon! I eat it a few times a week when life is busy. Try my Salmon Cakes, Roasted Salmon Greek Salad with Yogurt Dressing or Kid-Friendly Salmon.

Try my Salade Nicoise for a nice dose of tuna, eggs and fiber-filled veggies. For extra Omegas, I add sardines or anchovies and mix in extra dark leafy greens.

Dark leafy greens make an appearance at every meal during stressful times, so try my Kale Slaw or Crispy Kale “Chips,” or Spinach and Citrus Salad with Sweet and Spicy Pecans (swap the pecans for walnuts!).

Melissa-dArabian-Fennel-Slaw

Getting cabbage into my diet is easy with My Grandma’s Braised Cabbage, my Asian Cole Slaw or my Fennel and Cabbage Slaw.

Cauliflower is great simply roasted, or try my chilled Chilled Carrot and Cauliflower Soup, or my Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad.

Finally, if I’m craving a sweet treat, I’ll blend up a bunch of strawberries into a smoothie. Try my Almond Milk and Berry Smoothie for inspiration — use unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and add some flax seed (more Omega-3s!) and a handful of cooked white beans for extra fiber and protein.