Eating a bag of chips or drinking soda may provide a temporary distraction. But while often cheap and tasty, they weaken your body and make it harder to cope with stress, therefore making you more prone to symptoms like headache and nausea. They may also trigger negative emotions, perpetuating the stress cycle.
The good news is that healthy, nutritionally valuable food can have the opposite (positive!) effect. Over time, eating more of these foods can help your brain and body respond better to stress. Aim for a balance of protein, fat, and fiber to stabilize your blood sugar and give you important vitamins and minerals. Adding these foods to the menu may help you keep it together now and going forward.
Studying for stress? Don’t forget to grab a snack or eat a solid meal. Enjoy these easy recipes that include ingredients that have been proven to make stress less severe!
Strawberry Orange Smoothie
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1 orange, peeled and cut into small pieces
- 1/3 cup grated carrots
Add all the ingredients, staring with the almond milk, to a high powered blender. Try adding one ingredient at a time, with blending in between each ingredient to avoid getting the blend stuck. Blend until smooth, then pour into tall glass and enjoy.
Foods high in vitamin C are great for lowering stress, since this vitamin is responsible for lowing cortisol, a stress hormone, can also boost your immune system and lower blood pressure in stressful situations. In fact the strawberries and carrots in this smoothie actually has more vitamin C then the orange! Looking for more high vitamin C content ingredients to add? Try raspberries, mango, kiwi, kale or blueberries.
Berry Banana Oatmeal Parfait
- 1/3 cup of old fashioned oats
- 1 no-calorie sweetener packet
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla exact
- dash of salt
- 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
- 1/2 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt
- 1/2 banana, sliced
Add all the ingredients for the oatmeal in a small no-stick pot and add 3/4 cup of water. Then mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then lower and allow to simmer for 9 minutes. Taking care to stir often. It’s ready when the consistency almost is thick and creamy. Remove from heat and slightly cool it, before placing the oatmeal in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and cool in fridge to thicken more for an hour and 30 minutes.
When the oatmeal is finished chilling, stir until uniform them add half of it to a tall glass. Layer 1/4 cup strawberries, 1/4 yogurt and half of the banana slices. Finish layering until ingredients are used up and then dig in!
So why does this recipe help reduce stress? Well, because it contains oatmeal. Actually, if you just want to eat plain oatmeal, that’d be even better. Since oatmeal can increase your levels of serotonin, which helps regulate your mood… if you get too little of it, studies show that it can lead to depression. Serotonin also helps with sleep and memory!
Savory Sweet Nut Mix
- 1 15 once can of garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed and dried
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup shelled raw pistachios
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaf
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaf
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
First preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then spread the garbanzo beans in a single layer on a baking tray. Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil on them, taking care that they are coated. Once completely covered, bake until golden brown which may take about 40 minutes. In the meantime to make the seasoning, combine the sugar, rosemary, thyme, salt and cayenne with 3 tbsp of olive oil in a small bowl. When bean are done, add them with the almonds and pistachios in a bowl. Pour the seasoning over the nuts and beans, tossing to ensure that they are completely coated. Then spread the mixture out evenly into a single layer back on to the baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, then let cool and serve. Or pack and eat at school the next day.
This nut mix is primed with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B. Almonds, pistachios and garbanzo beans all have high vitamin B6 content which helps boost your immune system and your body produce serotonin, which as stated in an earlier recipe.. helps fight off depression. Plus pistachios also help keep your blood pressure lower in stressful situations.
Finding healthy ways to deal with stress, like eating healthy and cooking, is important. Remember, taking medications not prescribed to you, not following a doctor’s instructions, or taking a medication for a reason other than why it was prescribed is misuse.