Not all clichés ring true, but there’s one that’s never in doubt: “You are what you eat.” Just like the quality of the gas you put in your car can affect its performance, the quality of the food you eat can directly impact how your body performs.
We’re certainly not advocating that you remove any food from your refrigerator with an ounce of artificial sugar; however, it’s no secret that higher-quality meals positively impact both overall health and day-to-day well-being. And while there’s no substitute for medication prescribed for mental or behavioral health issues, factoring a healthy diet into the equation helps you maximize quality of life through natural, organic ingredients.
We don’t want to keep the elements to a stress-relieving diet a secret. Get to know easy tips and tricks below, to pair healthy food intake with a diet optimized for anxiety reprieve.
The perfect diet for stress management
There are no confidential ingredients here: it’s easy to create a diet that helps you control your anxiety. Much more difficult than creating the diet is sticking to it. No one will argue with the fact that a salad is healthier than a slice of cake, but that salad isn’t exactly more enjoyable to consume. The same trend rings true when it comes to a stress-minded diet: healthier doesn’t mean more delicious.
Since your diet decisions can make or break daily stress levels, we’re excited to deliver a list of easy instructions for anxiety alleviation, one meal at a time.
Ingredients to avoid: alcohol, caffeine, artificial sugars and sweeteners
No surprise here: if you’re looking to limit the effect that stress imposes on daily life, you’ll want to avoid ingredients that can artificially accelerate your heart rate, cause strong changes to blood sugar levels or make long-term stress or depression even more difficult to handle. Instead, seek out similar meals that can replicate taste without the negative impacts of artificial ingredients. For example, find desserts with substituted agave nectar or honey for sugar. Limit alcohol intake, and look to eliminate any caffeine after a certain point in your day.
Basic, fresh ingredients to help fight stress and anxiety
When it comes to building a diet specifically to fight against stress and anxiety, some ingredients are an absolute must. These include:
- Olive oil
- Dark chocolate (preferably 60-65% cacao, or darker)
- Whole grains (think rice, healthy breads, natural pastas, quinoa, etc.)
Subsidize these must-have ingredients with a wide variety of fresh, naturally-sourced ingredients. Here are some suggestions:
- Fresh yogurt
- Leafy vegetables (preferably greens)
- Brightly-colored vegetables, especially carrots and bell peppers
- Naturally fatty foods like avocados and fish
- Citrus, especially oranges
Noticing a pattern emerging here? If you can prioritize natural meals, with minimal artificial ingredients integrated into your meals, you’re well on your way to developing and maintaining stress-reducing eating habits.
Natural good, unnatural bad.
It really is that simple.
Factor organic ingredients into your life, farmed straight from the ground or minimally engineered before they reach your table, for lasting health benefits. In tandem, look to minimize, or altogether eliminate, the artificial ingredients that can compromise your health or state of mind.
And no one said that healthy eating needs to be boring eating! The beauty of a stress-reducing diet lies in the fact that there are so many unique food options from which to choose. Maybe you start your day with some steel-cut oatmeal and fresh fruit, followed by a turkey wrap and lentil soup for lunch. When dinner time rolls around, opt for something simple like grilled chicken or well-seasoned salmon, before capping the day with some dark chocolate or yogurt-based pudding.
A stress-free diet, only one facet of a stress-free life
Even if you’ve managed to fully optimize your diet to avoid stress through prioritizing natural foods, there are so many other supplemental decisions during your day that can affect stress and overall well-being. Craft a well-rounded approach to minimizing anxiety not only through a healthy diet, but also through a healthy overall lifestyle:
- Consider taking time at the beginning and end of every day for brief prayer or meditation.
- Create a daily routine, and stick to it.
- If you’re going to snack between meals, do so mindfully.
- Get enough sleep per night.
- Maintain healthy exercise habits.
Ultimately, you know what a healthy lifestyle looks like for your own body. We’re excited to suggest diet options we believe can help you turn the tide in your fight against chronic stress. It’s up to you to implement those decisions in a way that benefits your day-to-day routine. Don’t be afraid of the occasional setback; there’s no progress without change.
What your foods might lack in flavor, you’ll gain back in lasting satisfaction. Establish a healthy, nutrient-rich diet today, to help keep stress in its place and return a smile to your face where it belongs.