I truly believe that food is the best medicine. Not only can the right foods help cure physical afflictions, but I also believe that what we put into our bodies directly affects our moods and our minds.
For example, I always feel a little bit down, sluggish and low-energy after a weekend of over-indulging on drinks and unhealthy food, but if I fuel my body with whole, natural foods I instantly feel like my mood and energy has been lifted.
While eating is often abused as a means of numbing negative emotions or distracting from tough life problems, it can also be used in a positive light to help you destress and feel better. As long as you munch on a reasonable amount of the right foods, eating doesn’t have to be a self-destructive experience.
I know I’m guilty of thinking of bagels as evil or gorging myself on potato chips because I know how bad it is, but I really want to try to change my relationship with food. Let’s have a stable, emotionally healthy relationship with the things that feed us, not an abusive, love/hate one! Because really, food has so much to offer us, including a way to relax and change our mindsets.
Check out the list below to see some of the best foods to elevate your mood and destress!
1. Dark Chocolate
While chocolate can be dangerous because of its high levels of sugar and calories, a little bit of the dark stuff can go a long way. Research shows that dark chocolate can lower your levels of cortisol and catecholamine, which are hormones that cause stress.
2. Complex Carbs
Carbohydrates have been proven to promote the release of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a hormone that basically causes you to feel better and be happy – who doesn’t want that?! But beware of white, starchy carbs like white bread and pizza; stick to complex carbs like quinoa and fibre-rich grains to help along your digestion and keep your energy higher for longer.
Asparagus contains tons of vitamin B, which can help keep you calm, cool and collected. It’s also full of tryptophan, an amino acid which can also help promote the release of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is super important guys, so eat your asparagus!
Walnuts, like eggs and salmon, are full of omega-3 fatty acid, which also helps to lower cortisol levels in your bod. They can also help out with your adrenaline levels, another hormone that can make you feel on-edge. I love putting walnuts in salads with arugula and pears. They also taste delish with cheese, crackers and a little honey.
5. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are full of vitamin C, which can be key in lowering your stress levels. Plus, they’re super low-cal, full of antioxidants and so tasty! How can you go wrong?
6. Swiss Chard
I had to put Swiss chard on this list because it’s probably one of my favourite greens! I love munching on it with some salmon and wild rice for a super healthy, balanced meal. Swiss chard contains tons of magnesium, which can really aid in your bod’s relaxation, specifically your muscles and nerves.
Avocado is super healthy and delicious! In addition to its many health benefits, avocado contains the most vitamin B of all fruits – how can you say no to something as promising as that?! I love sushi that has avo in it – it adds such a lovely, creamy texture.
8. Oranges and Berries
Fruits like oranges and berries are chock-full of vitamin C, which can really help you destress. Plus, they’re full of antioxidants and hydrating juiciness. Pack your Ziploc with tons of oranges, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries for the perfect summer snack!
A handful of nuts as a snack can also go a long way. They’re full of healthy fats to keep you going throughout the day and keep your stress levels at bay.
Not only are they full of healthy proteins, but a hard-boiled egg will help you feel fuller for longer. If you don’t feel full, your body’s natural response will be to get stressed out, so make sure you’re eating mindfully.
Food isn’t the only way to destress, but it’s a great place to start! If you’re already a healthy eater but still find yourself stressed out, try meditating, doing yoga, deep breathing or getting in some cardio to kick that stubborn anxiety to the curb.
What’s your favourite way to relax and destress? Let me know in the comments!