10 Ways to Eat to Relieve Stress

You may be able to eat your way to lower stress levels.

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Can You Eat to Relieve Stress?

In this fast paced world, everyone has some sort of stress. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 31% of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life. Part of living a healthy lifestyle is finding ways to manage stress, and part of stress management includes exercising and choosing the right foods. Below are 10 ways to help manage and relieve stress.

Sip on a Bowl of Chicken Soup

Many folks feel comforted after eating a bowl of warming chicken soup. Comfort foods, like chicken soup, boost levels of serotonin, which is a brain chemical that produced a calming effect.

Enjoy a Warm Bowl of Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a comfort food to many and contains oats, which signals the brain to make more serotonin. Although all carbs signal the brain to produce this feel-good chemical, whole grain oats take longer to digest, which means a steady supply of serotonin for a longer period of time.

Add Avocado to Your Dishes

One quarter of an avocado is a good source of folate. This B-vitamin helps produce dopamine, a chemical with a calming effect. Enjoy avocado toast in the morning, add slices of avocado into a salad, or make a guacamole for a snack.

Minimize Alcohol

Alcohol has a sedative effect to help you relax, however, over time you can build up a tolerance to the de-stressing effects of it. Alcohol alters the levels of serotonin and other chemicals produced in the brain, which can worsen anxiety. This is why after the alcohol wears off you can actually feel more anxious. If you’re feeling anxious, cutting back on alcohol temporarily may be helpful.

Snack on Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has been linked to lower levels of various stress-related hormones, including cortisol. Plus, any added sugar in dark chocolate (usually a small amount) can also stimulate the feel-good hormone serotonin. If you choose to include dark chocolate in your anxiety-relief diet, stick to one ounce a day.

Minimize Caffeine

Sipping on too many cups of caffeinated coffee or tea throughout the day can make anxiety worse. Although the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines do recognize a 400 milligram per day limit on caffeine as safe (about 3 cups per day), having more can worsen anxiety in some people. If you find yourself sensitive to caffeine and notice increased anxiety after consuming, then switch to decaf or herbal varieties of coffee and/or tea.

Add Blueberries To Your Diet

Research has shown that the antioxidant vitamin C and the natural chemicals known as flavonoids in blueberries can help relieve stress. A study published in 2017 found that wild blueberries filled with flavonoids may help boost mood in young adults and kids. Although more research is needed, adding blueberries to pancake batter, smoothies, a cup of yogurt or onto a bed of greens is a delicious way to add them into your healthy eating plan.

Savor Greek Yogurt

A 2020 review study published in the British Medical Journal examined how probiotics may help adults with anxiety and depression. Although more research is needed, the studies showed a positive correlation between taking probiotics and improved outcome measures of anxiety and depression. Greek yogurt, a fermented food, contains live, active cultures that often act as probiotics and can be included in a healthy eating plan to help minimize stress.

Try Canned Tuna

The amino acid tryptophan found in canned tuna signals the brain to release the feel-good chemical serotonin. This chemical helps promote calmness. Opt for tuna canned in water whenever possible.

Increase Exercise

Another way to boost your mood comes from moving your body. Runners "high" is actually a thing and all types of physical activity can spark the release of feel good endorphins that can help stabilize mood, reduce stress, improve sleep and even reduce fatigue.