With work deadlines continuing to pile up and your social calendar completely booked, the last thing you want to hear is to stay away from the vending machine.
Who has time to make a healthy packed lunch anyway?
Actually, when it comes to combating stress levels, what you eat can actually help to relieve your tension.
While some foods may stabilise your blood sugar, or better yet your emotional response, others can help you feel much better about yourself.
Whether you choose to incorporate these foods in food hamper gifts for your friends or simply make use of them yourself, here are nine foods that are sure to help you tackle the stress factor!
1. Green leafy vegetables
It’s always tempting to reach for a cheeseburger when you’re stressed, but it’s best to go green at lunch instead.
Green leafy vegetables – like spinach – create folate which produces dopamine, also known as a pleasure inducing brain chemical which helps you to keep calm.
A study was conducted back in 2012 and called the Journal of Affective Disorders looked at 2,800 middle aged and elderly people and found those that consumed the most folate were at lower risk of developing symptoms of depression than those who consumed the least.
We all know that stuffed-and-happy feeling we get after munching on our Christmas dinner, well that’s all down to the turkey. OK, it’s actually the tryptophan – an amino acid found in turkey.
This clever chemical helps our bodies to produce serotonin which regulates hunger and feelings of happiness. Tryptophan has a great way of making us feel calm and sated, which is just what we need during times of stress, but some other foods high in this amino acid include nuts, seeds, fish and eggs.
Did you get fed this when you were a kid? Well your parents were right, it’s great stuff!
And if you’re a carb lover, you’re in luck! If you crave a nice doughnut when you’re stressed, there’s no reason not to give into the craving but if you opt for oatmeal instead then MIT research says the carbohydrates it contains can help your brain make serotonin; the same substance regulated by antidepressants.
This may sound a little bizarre, but hear us out. Sometimes the bacteria in your gut can contribute to your stress levels. Research has actually shown that while the brain normally sends signals to the gut, there can be times when the gut communicates to the brain and causes stress. The answer: yoghurt!
By adding a little yoghurt to your diet the brain activity in such areas can be reduced meaning that stress levels can slowly decrease.
When you’re stressed you’ll find your anxiety hormones hit the roof, causing adrenalin to course through your veins. In order to help you reach a sense of calm, it’s recommended that you eat foods with omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon.
Foods containing this can provide up to a 20% reduction in the amount of anxiety you feel according to research carried out by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Blueberries are fantastic antioxidants and work hard to help improve your body’s response to stress.
There’s more benefits than just this though. These little blue beauties will also improve your immunity which is great for helping you fight against colds and viruses.
When you have ongoing negative thoughts playing on your mind – whether it’s that really important board meeting you’ve been dreading or an assignment you need to work on – it’s handy to be doing something with your hands to keep these thoughts at bay.
This is where pistachio nuts come in. The continued cracking of the nuts and eating them makes them not only a diet-friendly snack but also a stress reliever. Add in the fact these little nuts have heart health benefits and they’re the perfect snack.
8. Dark chocolate
Calling all chocoholics! Believe it or not, dark chocolate is actually a healthy indulgence – providing you have a small bite and not a whole bar!
Dark chocolate contains cortisol which is great at reducing stress hormones, causing blood pressure to decrease and improvements in blood circulation. You can buy a bar on its own or pick up chocolate food hampers to enjoy a little stress-relieving indulgence now and again.
While you shouldn’t be eating too much of this super fruit, it’s great for shutting down stress eating and filling your tummy to ensure you feel satisfied when you need it the most.
By adding these nine delicious foods to your diet, you’ll be able to combat just about any stressful situation you’re put in. Challenges at work and stressing over how to deal with the kids during the summer holidays will be a thing of the past and you’ll be pleased to know that these stress-free treats are also included in our hampers so you can get them for yourself or for friends.