People who are stressed will usually have a quite particular relationship with food and they can be divided in two different categories: people belonging to the first one will overeat in order to calm down, whereas people who fall into the second one will literally lose their appetite and interest in food.
Let's start from the first category which regroups people who eat in excess trying to calm down and release some of the "stress".
In this case, the choice will always fall on starchy carbohydrates because of their fast-acting effects which immediately produce endorphins to the brain. Endorphins regulate our mood and have the ability to give us pleasure, gratification and happiness, helping us to better withstand stress.
As we can imagine, overcoming the lack of endorphins and other neurotransmitters in the brain with high glycemic foods will increase body weight and worsening the problem in the long run.
Those who fall into the second category that was mentioned earlier, will have hunger cravings overtime leading to systematically skip meals. If you fall into either of these categories there is certainly something that can help you balance your diet.
The human brain is designed to vary the nutrients present in the food we eat.
The tongue is made to distinguish between hot and cold, sweet and salty, bitter and acidic as well as the mouth is designed to recognize food's textures and the various combinations that may be between them.
This allows the human body to be eligible for a variety of nutritional opportunities.
A balanced diet is what we need to provide our body with everything it needs.
However, if we are stressed this will fall out of balance. As an example, if you eat too much in an unbalanced way it will be hard to get out of this vicious circle. An advice would be starting to prioritize small portions made of whole foods that have particular characteristics in terms of sight, structure and taste. Most importantly avoid preparing unappetizing dishes.
If you have little appetite you should eat just the right amount of food in order to satisfy your body and mind needs and cope with stress. However, if you are excessively hungry due to stress, you may need to "trick" your brain with little food tricks such as presenting a variety of foods at the table which will make you full faster. By doing so, even though you eat less you will still reach your goal of feeling satiated ***
*** Prolongued or chronic stress increases the level of particular hormones such as cortisol and reduces the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to depression. Sometimes we will get to the point of "burning" these neurotransmitters creating a vicious circle in which neither good rest nor a balanced diet will get us out of it and restore health; supplementation is then required in order to slowly regenerate the neurotransmitters and re-balance hormone production.
Which are the "anti-stress" foods?
"Anti stress foods" are foods that can also be consumed in small snacks but are very nutritious. If you have difficulty eating and have poor appetite, having these foods will allow you to store calories whereas if you have a habit of eating compulsively these foods will satiate your body and mind and help you release stress.
Let's start with NUTS that are rich in Omega-3 and help the body maintain a lower blood pressure during stressful situations. Then there are KIWIS, high in vitamin C which helps reduce levels of stress hormones in the blood. OAT FLOUR, if consumed in small portions, provides complex carbohydrates that can increase levels of serotonin, leaving the body relaxed.
Studies have shown that regular consumption of small amounts of CHOCOLATE can help to reduce anxiety in those who are prone. Finally, STRAWBERRIES, which are high in magnesium, can help reduce anxiety and irritability. Of course there are many others, so do not get stuck only on these 5 !
In addition to a healthy lifestyle and diet there are some natural supplements that are effective, particularly those containing Siberian ginseng.
Siberian Ginseng has gained popularity over the centuries due to its ability to restore vigor and for its adaptogenic properties. Discovered by Brekman, a Russian doctor in 1950, this natural tonic immediately showed its beneficial effects on the human body by being able to reduce physical and mental fatigue and strengthen the immune system.
Based on a large number of clinical trials we can now affirm that Siberian Ginseng has many advantages such as: increases energy levels, works as an antiviral and immune booster, improves physical and mental performance, reduces recovery time after exercise or stress, improves sexual function and supports the adrenal glands by increasing resistance to stress. Furthermore, it protects from radiation exposure and helps cancer patients to better tolerate chemotherapy.
Eleuthero or Siberian Ginseng is an adaptogenic herb that helps improve stress management. Several clinical studies have shown that this herb is able to modulate the activation of the right adrenal cortex in response to stress. In addition to this, as mentioned earlier, it helps physical and mental recovery.
Rehmmania's root has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its tonic proprieties, particularly on the adrenal glands helping against adrenal fatigue which has become a very common issue.
The Root of Rehmannia is an important blood tonic in traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine. Thus it is particularly important for women who have an increased blood need especially due to their heavy menstrual flows. Rehmannia's root, when combined with Dang Gu, becomes an even more powerful blood tonic. Dang Gui is the main blood tonic in Chinese herbal medicine.
The root of Rehmmania combined with Siberian ginseng and other tonic-adaptogenic herbs can be very useful both to those who feel the need for a long-term support and for those who suffer from chronic fatigue.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is probably the most studied and known vitamin. It is a powerful antioxidant that protects against free radicals in aqueous environments (intracellular fluid, plasma). It is also necessary for the formation and protection of collagen which is the main protein in the organism which is essential for connective tissue's production (skin, vessels, bones), tissue repair and to maintain healthy capillaries, gums and teeth.
Unfortunately, most of the vitamin C supplements on the market are for the most part synthetic and contain excipients which can often cause annoying gastric disorders. The biggest problem is that they often do not contain a sufficient amount of vitamin C to meet the daily requirements (RDA).
The best would be choosing supplements made of natural sources of vitamin C such as mixtures of camu camu grown naturally, amla, acerola, blueberries, raspberries, lemons, cranberries, cherries, rose hips, and organic sprouts; all-natural sources.
There is a big difference between isolated ascorbic acid powders usually found in vitamin C supplements, mostly artificial, and the ones made from natural sources.
It is therefore essential to use a product that also supplies the phytonutrients that are normally combined to ascorbic acid in nature to nourish your body and help strengthen the immune system.