When we think of stress management we often think of taking a yoga class or booking a massage. In other words, fitting something ELSE into our schedule…ha.
But you have to eat, right? You are already eating. Maybe you’re eating or drinking something right now.
If you choose the right foods you can actually transform your stress response with zero extra time. I’m not talking about subtle changes. I’m talking about serious transformation.
Put down the Xanax and hear me out.
By nature I’m a fairly stressed out person. I think most high-achieving women are.
We have high standards. We put that pressure on ourselves – not to mention the pressure put on us by our jobs, our families and our culture. (Gotta be a size 4, right?)
Stress manifests in different ways. For me it’s anxiety and insomnia. For others it could be weight gain and high blood pressure. For everyone it feels like general unhappiness.
Change your food and these issues start to melt away. Here’s how…
1. Eat more protein and fat
The goal here is to balance your blood sugar. Nothing spells S-T-R-E-S-S faster than a spike and drop in blood sugar. Make sure each of your meals includes a significant source of protein and naturally occurring, healthy fat. Fat does not make you fat, but stress sure can. Don’t skimp on the butter.
2. Pile on the green things
This might sound a little woo woo, but the green color in vegetables like kale and spinach comes from chlorophyll. Think back to 7th grade science class. It turns green when the plant absorbs sunlight, right? So when you eat these veggies, think about consuming the uplifting energy of the sun. It feels good. And it’s incredibly good for you.
3. Say yes to chocolate
Chocolate is high in magnesium, which is a mineral your body needs to relax. Bring it on, right? But make sure you’re choosing a high quality chocolate. Try something with at least 70% cocoa or raw cacao.
4. Go for gut health
Fermented foods are known for helping digestion through probiotic activity. But improved gut flora also helps your mood and immune function. Short story? Buy some pickles. Or sauerkraut. Or ginger carrots. Traditionally fermented foods will always be found in the refrigerator section (try Whole Foods or other natural food stores) and will never have vinegar listed in the ingredient list.
5. Reduce processed sugar
Processed sugar can be a significant contributor to anxiety and depression. It’s also a key player in stress. Not only does it throw your blood sugar out of balance but it causes a reaction in your brain similar to cocaine. You should also not do coke if you want to relieve stress. Am I right or am I right?
6. Cut back caffeine
No, you don’t have to give it up. But for every drop of coffee you replace with herbal tea (or something else) you decrease the stress response in your body. Caffeine forces an adrenaline rush in your body and…listen, if you’ve been living a stressed out life for some time, the last thing your adrenal glands need is more punishment. So if you normally have 3 cups, have 2. If you normally drink a double espresso, have a single. Don’t go cold turkey or you’ll hate my guts.
It’s hard to measure happiness but if you commit to a few weeks you will notice a big difference. You’ll be able to manage more and perform better. You’ll sleep better, smile more easily and wonder why the heck you didn’t start sooner.