When it comes to dealing with stress, many of us find ourselves reaching for junk food in order to attain some much needed relief from such negative feelings.
According to CSIRO Total Wellbeing Dietitian Pennie McCoy this is known as “emotional eating” which is “when a person uses food as a resource to control their emotions”.
Although eating that piece of chocolate provide some help in the short term, in the long term it can have detrimental impacts on a person’s health and wellbeing.
“Foods that we tend to go for when we emotionally eat are often foods that are high in fat and salt, or high in sugar – they’re really highly processed,” McCoy said.
“And while this gives us immediate satisfaction when we eat the food, the consequences of long-term exposure to this type of behaviour is not necessarily satisfaction.”
Although it’s always important to talk with a doctor or health professional if you are turning to food as a way of dealing with problems, there are some small and simple changes you can make to your diet to help in the meantime.
According to Health.com, these are a number of foods to add to your diet if you have been feeling stressed or if you’re inclined to reach for a snack if things are getting a bit too much for you.
Blueberries work alongside your body to fight stressful situations. They contain an array of antioxidants and phytonutrients, with reports suggesting that they can also help boost your immune system which in turn, could help lower your stress levels.
If you like snacking on chocolate, you may be surprised to find that it could help with your mental health.
Dark chocolate in particular works a treat, given that the cocoa has the potential to encourage blood vessels to relax and in turn, lower blood pressure.
It also contains natural ingredients that can trigger similar feelings to falling in love.
If in doubt, opt for chocolates with higher levels of cocoa.
It may be easy to reach for a bucket of deep-fried chicken or a fatty burger, but salmon and fish could be better if you’re looking to reduce stress.
These types of fish contain omega-3 and fatty acids which can fight the negative effects of stress hormones.
Fighting bad feelings doesn’t mean you need to give up tasty treats. In fact, just 30g of cashews contains around 11 per cent of the recommended daily intake of zinc.
While that may not sound like much, zinc is vital when it comes to reducing anxiety. Where possible, opt for the salt-free version of the snack to ensure you’re not filling your body with unhealthy elements.
Similarly, pistachios also work.
Most people have been in a situation where they feel a little anxious and want nothing more than to grab a salty bag of chips, but eating green or leafy vegetables will actually give your body relax and give you a calm feeling.
Health.com suggests that these vegetables which contain folate work with your body to produce the pleasure-inducing brain chemical dopamine. They add that a 2012 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders of middle-aged and elderly people found those who consumed the most folate had a lower risk of symptoms of depression.
Where possible, try snaking on vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, avocado and Brussel sprouts.
If you find that you are relying on food to get you through the many stresses of life, switch out the cake or pizza for one of the healthier options listed above to ensure your health and wellbeing can operate at their best.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.