Thursday, November 21, 2013

Foods to Eat When You Are Stressed

Ruth stresses, whether to crunch or to slurp? 

Are you the kind of stress eater that needs to chew to relieve stress? Do you reach for something to crunch when you munch? Or do you need the soothing melt in your mouth feeling? We are hot wired to satisfy our emotional needs through food. As we enter one of the most stressful times of year think about how to create healthy choices, and keep these suggestions in your cupboard.

Traditional Comfort food raises your serotonin level and elevates your mood.

Simple carbohydrates raise your serotonin level, which is why you can become addicted to sugar, wheat, and pasta. So instead of rejecting these outright, choose more complex carbohydrate foods such as sweet potato, brown rice, and oatmeal.

Which of these behaviors do you gravitate toward when you are stressed?

Compulsive overeaters are those who just can't stop thinking about food.

Impulsive overeaters don't really think about food all the time, but as soon as they smell it, they feel the urge to eat.

"A high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet is very good for impulsive people, because it helps them focus," Dr. Daniel Amen, psychiatrist and author known for his brain-imaging clinic, says. "But it's a disaster for our compulsive people, because they start to focus on the things that upset them."

It’s likely you vacillate between these behaviors so it’s a good idea to just stock up foods to satisfy your moods.

Spices affect your mood too.
Amazon Orbit Spice Rack

If you look at the spices that have specific brain-optimization qualities –for example, saffron- and can affect your mood - cinnamon- they're  natural aphrodisiacs that also help to balance blood sugar and people focus. Oregano and rosemary have been shown to boost blood flow to the brain.  Really what you eat is either helping your brain function better or it's hurting it.

Here is where a healthy gut is essential. 

There are brain cells in your digestive track. So it’s important to have a healthy gut. Choose fermented food to help clear out your gut.

Fermented foods for clearing your gut:

  • Horseradish
  • Pickles
  • Sauerkraut
  • Yogurt
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Yogurt cheese or labneh
  • Fermented hot chili sauce
After a frustrating cold call episode, I found myself in need of stress relief through food. I keep emergency munch food in my cabinet when I can’t stop and take a break from the activity. 

Snack Attack Cabinet Keepers:

  • Salt and vinegar or wasabi almonds
  • Frozen grapes
  • Frozen orange juice ice cubes
  • Fresh fruit: apple
A key to satisfying your palate is to think about what you want for dinner. Before I cook a meal, I think about what I want. Not what I should be eating on an eating plan. Always be mindful of the season and what is local. Then translate that into what you can eat.

Dinner Plan options:

Think about food that makes you work to get at it: 
  • Corn on the Cob 
  • Pork Chops on the bone
  • Baby Lamb Chops
  • Tenderloin steak on the bone
  • Mussels
  • Crab legs
  • Whole Lobster
  • Chicken legs
  • Whole artichokes
  • Crunchy leaves in a big Salad
  • Whole grain crunch crusty bread
There are times you need to feel satisfied with the whole process of eating. You are psychologically set up to use food to make you feel less tense. This is why you may feel frustrated on a juice fast. Where is the chewing experience? Some days are like that. So go with it. 

My go to food:

Avocado sandwich on whole grain crunchy bread.  I add:  

  • Horseradish
  • Kale leaves
  • Tomatoes


I usually include something savory along with the process to add punch and flavor to the experience.  Based on this advise, create a go to menu for yourself and share it with us here.  Eating itself should be stress free.

By Ruth Gantman, HHC, AADP, Holistic Health Coach

You can contact Ruth with your questions here in the comments or at  

Also visit Ruth's site for more information on nutrition and diet at Nurtured By Nature.

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