The next time you’re feeling the stress of a looming deadline, the pressure of a never-ending to-do list, or an overwhelming feeling that you’re falling behind on something, load up a plate full of food and eat your way through it. It can’t be just any food, though — opt for some of the foods that have been proven to help reduce stress levels.
Munching on a few of the following ten foods should help keep you feeling centered and calm.
1. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a great stress-reducing snack, in part because they help satisfy your urge to eat carbohydrates and sugary snacks. But rather than give you a short-lived sugar rush followed by that awful crash that comes after, sweet potatoes will deliver a ton of nutrients that your body can process slowly and steadily. According to Marie Claire, sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene and other vitamins in addition to fiber, which helps you feel full longer.
“I know, these slender stalks are known to make your urine smell funny. But they are high in folate, which is essential for keeping your cool,” says Prevention. Folic acid has actually been proven to enhance your mood, making it a perfect snack to keep on hand for tense situations.
Vitamin C reduces stress and helps return blood pressure and cortisol to normal levels after you’ve dealt with a stressful situation, according to Marie Claire. Bodies tend to get run down when we’re stressed — vitamin C boosts the immune system and will help build your body back up.
This fruit is guaranteed to help stress-proof your body. It contains glutathione, which blocks intestinal absorption of fats that cause oxidative damage. These stress blockers also contain lutein, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and more folate than any other fruit, Prevention writes. There’s also a lot of vitamin B packed into an avocado, as well. Just make sure you don’t go crazy munching on this fruit — it’s also high in fat.
5. Fatty fish
“The heart-healthy omega-3 fats in fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna manage adrenaline levels to help keep you calm, cool and collected,” writes Food Network. What more could you ask for when dealing with a daunting deadline?
Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to eat turkey: It contains an amino acid called L-tryptophan, which triggers the release of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical (it’s the reason a lot of people feel relaxed or tired after eating it). L-tryptophan has been proven to have a calming effect on those who eat it, Marie Claire reports.
They’re loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C, making these tiny berries the perfect food to repair and protect cells, Men’s Fitness writes. Blueberries are also high in fiber and are low calorie, so there’s no need to feel guilty if it takes more than a few handfuls before you start feeling better.
“A glass of warm milk before bed is a time-tested remedy for insomnia and fidgetiness. That’s because milk is high in antioxidants, vitamins B2 and B12, as well as protein and calcium. The protein lactium has a calming effect by lowering blood pressure, while the potassium in milk can help relieve muscle spasms triggered by feeling tense,” according to Men’s Fitness.
In addition to the satisfying crunch that carrots make when you take a bite, they also help your body cope with stress through the nutrients they contain. Carrots, celery, and other crunchy veggies all contain stress-fighting nutrients while remaining low in calories, making it the perfect snack, according to the Food Network.
So it’s not exactly your normal, go-to comfort food, but eating spinach is proven to have a comforting effect. It contains magnesium, which helps regulate cortisol levels. Regulated cortisol levels promote feelings of well-being, Men’s Fitness writes.