If your go-to way to manage stress is devouring a bag of potato chips (because crunching that poor little potato into submission feels oh-so-good), read on. Feel free to feed your anxiety with these Eat This, Not That!-approved, stress-relieving eats and drinks (within reason). Stash some of them in your snack drawer so you can grab a snack and get back to work, refueled, refocused, and less overwhelmed. Even if your stress sends you into munching overdrive, none of these picks will derail your weight loss efforts, leaving you with one less thing to worry about.
Really, we’re not screwing with you. A study out of the Nestlé Research Center (of course) found that those who deemed themselves “highly stressed” had lower levels of the stress hormones cortisol and catecholamines in their system after two weeks eating chocolate everyday for two weeks. Don’t worry, we checked out another study just to verify, and they also found that dark chocolate buffers the effects of stress in humans. So it’s official; break off a square to celebrate. (For a couple dark-chocolate drizzled snacks, check out our list of good snacks and stock up for the workweek ahead.)
Strawberries are surprisingly high in vitamin C, which has been proven to have a significant effect on stress levels. Increased vitamin C consumption has been proven to help people cope with stressful situations. Levels of cortisol (one of the stress hormones) decreased rapidly in subjects given vitamin C supplement, and the blood pressure of the study participants returned to normal more quickly in the vitamin C group than in the control group.
If you don’t like fish, you have good reason to be stressed. But you can get the same benefits from an Omega-3 supplement. A study out of Ohio State University found that students who took regular omega-3 supplements had a 20% reduction in their anxiety levels, in comparison to students who were fish-free and didn’t take supplements.
If you know you have a big day ahead, plan to have some lox with breakfast for salmon on your salad. It will fight those overwhelmed feelings from stress and also keep you focused, so you can nail that afternoon presentation or meeting.
Once you go black, you never—I’m talking about tea, I just want to be clear. A 2007 study published in the journal Psychopharmacology found that black tea drinkers are better able to manage stress than their herbal-sipping counterparts. Not only were black tea drinkers generally less stressed out, they also were able to return their body to homeostasis more quickly after a stressful situation than non-black tea drinkers.
Nuts are crunchy, so there’s a stress relieving activity for you. More importantly, nuts are high in magnesium, a vital nutrient when in it comes to our body’s natural stress coping mechanism. (Leafy greens are another great source of magnesium. So over the trendier options? Try these greens that are healthier than kale.) The majority of us are magnesium deficient, the RDA for adults is between 320 and 420mg daily and the average American gets about 250mg daily. A common sign of magnesium deficiency is an inability to manage stress, and the physical ramifications of that like high blood pressure, insomnia, fatigue, or loss of appetite. Go ahead, eat that PB & J, it will calm you down.