Stress can make you gain weight and could make you overeat. We reveal how to eat to beat stress with our list of the best stress-busting foods.

Stress is an unwelcome but daily fixture in many lives, especially during the strange times we’re currently in. Emotional stressors are something we have to deal with on a daily (or in some cases, hourly!) basis, and we are frequently exposed to physical stressors too.

Stress has a significant impact on your physical wellbeing. High blood pressure, an aching back/neck, diarrhoea, dizzy spells, fatigue, weight loss/gain, insomnia, a lack of concentration and frequent colds are – among many others – all very real physical symptoms of a stressed body.

Hormonal issues

When the body is stressed, the small structures that control your hormones, known as the adrenal glands, go into overdrive causing a rise in your metabolic rate along with a rampaging, hormone storm! For the body to try and counteract this, we ‘use up’ nutrients faster than we can replace them. Couple this with a typical ‘pick me up’ diet of sugary, carbohydrate rich, grab and go foods and stress quickly gives way to anxiety, depression and illness.

Next time you’re feeling under pressure, try ditching the wine and ice cream and munch on the following stress busting foods instead…

Fish

Healthy fish

Fish is high in Vitamin B12 which is essential for combating irritability, depression, anxiety and insomnia. B12 works in synergy with Folic acid – so combine your fish with folate rich spinach for a nutrient double whammy!

Papaya

Papaya

Get some of this exotic fruit in your morning smoothie. Vitamin C is used in large quantities by the adrenal glands, therefore long-term stress can result in a depletion of this immune boosting antioxidant – hello frequent sniffles! Guava, strawberries and kiwi fruit also warrant a thumbs up.

Honey

Honey

Sleep-inducing and tranquilising, honey truly is one of nature’s best remedies. Try drizzling over your morning oats for breakfast or stirring into some warm milk for a blissful night’s rest.

Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds

These nutty nibbles contain L-Tryptophan, an essential amino acid which causes a boost in serotonin (the body’s natural anti-depressant) and melatonin (our natural sleeping aid). As it’s not produced within the body, we have to consume tryptophan rich foods – other sources are turkey and baked potatoes.

Almonds

Almonds

Magnesium deficiency, a common side effect of stress, can magnify symptoms. Due to modern farming and processing, much of the food we consume is lacking in this vital mineral – so we have to try harder to include foods which are naturally rich in this disease combating marvel. Nuts, and in particular, almonds are rich in magnesium and should be included in small amounts, daily. During your period, sex hormones fluctuate and this can result in a magnesium deficiency – combat this by snacking on magnesium rich foods before the symptoms kick in!

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard

During periods of stress we excrete more potassium than usual which can lead to some pretty unpleasant side effects over time. Almost every organ, cell and tissue needs potassium in order to function optimally. It also aids smooth muscle contraction – including the muscles which control digestion which is why stress and irritable bowels often go hand in hand. Dark leafy greens such as Swiss chard can go some way in rectifying this.

Tea

Tea

According to a study conducted by University College London, four cups of black tea per day may promote a feeling of calm and aid in ‘de-stressing.’ If you find you’re caffeine sensitive, stick to herbal teas such as chamomile or try Pukka’s Night Time tea for a soothing alternative. Probably best to avoid the biscuits though!

Eggs

Poached egg

Eggs are one of the best protein sources. Our protein stores are used up quickly during periods of stress and considering that protein used in almost every function right down to cellular level, it’s essential that stores are replenished regularly. Keep your emotional and physical wellbeing intact by including 20g of protein (80g turkey or tuna) with each main meal and 10g (100g Greek yoghurt or 2 small boiled eggs) of protein as part of a healthy snack twice a day. Other sources include meat, fish, dairy products and quinoa.