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Food To Alleviate Stress: Stress Busting Food

Updated on March 24, 2010

What should you eat to support your body in times of high pressure?

Stress busting food

High pressure can cause stress, and stress can have a number of effects on your body. It can reduce the effectiveness of your immune system, and cause problems such as headaches, exhaustion, insomnia, depression, and a change in appetite.

A common response to chronic stress is a heavy reliance on caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, fatty foods and generally neglecting to pay attention to good nutrition.

What you eat can help your body cope with stress by providing the essential nutrients required for optimum bodily functioning.

What to eat - a survivor's guide:

  • Always have breakfast. It will help maintain your blood sugar levels during the morning. Good choices include oat-based or whole grain-type cereals, such as muesli, oatmeal, raisin bran with low-fat milk or yogurt, multigrain toast with olive oil-based low fat spread, or fresh/dried fruit.
  • Make sure you regularly eat carbohydrates, such as breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, rice, etc. during the day to help maintain concentration and energy levels. Try to include carbohydrates at each meal. These foods increase the production of serotonin in the body, which can improve your mood.
  • Choose multi-grain breads with the whole grains intact, wholewheat pasta, bulgur wheat, cous cous, and potato or sweet potato for lunch or evening meals.

  • Include oily fish such as fresh tuna (canned tuna is not a good source), salmon, herring and kippers, mackerel, canned or fresh sardines, or trout in your diet. Aim for 1 to 2 portions per week to provide omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function.

  • Try to avoid sugary snacks and high-fat snack foods, like cakes, cookies, chocolate, chips and high-fat carry-out foods such as burgers, fries, and pizza. Instead snack on fresh or dried fruits, low-fat yogurts, fruit smoothies, oat or cereal bars, and raisin bread.

  • Choose quick, healthy meals such as wholegrain sandwiches stuffed with lean meat, chicken or fish and a salad; or a baked potato with beans or cottage cheese and a salad; or pasta with a tomato-based sauce. Beware of fillings made with mayonnaise!

  • Include vitamin-rich foods that support the functioning of the immune system. Look for foods high in vitamins A, B12, C, E, folic acid, zinc, selenium, and iron. If your food intake of these vitamins is low, a general multivitamin supplement containing these nutrients may be beneficial.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. Dehydration combined with too much caffeine can cause tiredness, headaches and irritability, and can decrease concentration levels.

  • If it's hard for you to drink that much water, try diluted fruit juice or flavored waters to add variety.

  • Limit caffeine intake by reducing tea and coffee to 2-3 cups per day. Too much caffeine can affect sleep quality because it is a stimulant. It also acts as a diuretic thus increasing water loss.

  • Decrease alcohol intake, and have at least 1-2 alcohol-free days per week. Avoid drinking alcohol close to bedtime, as it has been linked to restless sleep.

  • Stop smoking.

Natural Food That Is Rich With Vitamins

Food That Is Rich in Vitamin
Vitamin C
Bell peppers, brussels sprouts, broccoli, watercress, tomatoes, mango, kiwi, guava, blackcurrants, citrus fruits, strawberries, lychees
Vitamin A
Liver, liver products and organ meats, oily fish, eggs. Betacarotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, and rich sources include carrots, sweet potato, mango, cantaloupe melon, apricots, Swiss chard, parsley, curly kale, spring greens, spinach
Vitamin E
Vegetable oils, nuts, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, avocado, egg, wheat germ
Folic acid
Leafy green vegetables, yeast extract, liver, fortified breakfast cereals
Vitamin B12
Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy foods
Meat, fish, shellfish (oysters are the richest sources of zinc), eggs, whole grains
Nuts (brazil nuts are the richest source), wholegrains, fish, poultry, meat, milk and eggs
Rich animal sources include red meat and organ meat. Rich vegetable sources include leafy green vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, seeds and fortified breakfast cereals


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