Contributed by: Rachana Arya
We all feel wrung out sometimes by the stress of daily life and instinctively reach for foods and drinks for comfort, to reward ourselves or maybe even for an escape.
Unfortunately, often the very things we choose to gulp down may only provide us short-term relief and actually increase anxiety and depression in the long run.
Not all foods fix emotional problems. Certainly, foods instead of being your primary emotional coping mechanism may actually make you feel worse and contribute to anxiety and stress.
A few categories of foods deprive our bodies of necessary nutrients and raise inflammation and stress hormone production.
But which meals, exactly, contribute to an increase in our stress levels?
Here are seven foods and beverages to avoid if you want to reduce stress in your life.
White flour or maida
White foods – essentially, “bad carbs” like sugar and baked goods made with white flour – have very little nutritional value since it has been stripped of their most fibre-rich layers during processing.
Furthermore, because white flour is highly processed, it quickly turns to blood sugar after you eat it.
This causes energy spikes that can be bad for anxiety and stress.
Additionally, regular consumption of white flour can result in several other health issues such as high blood pressure, weight gain, mood swings and progression toward obesity.
To prevent eating too much white flour, read nutrition labels and look for items made of unprocessed carbs that don’t trigger rapid blood sugar peaks.
When you do indulge in white flour, try to match it with high-fibre foods, such as vegetables, to decrease its absorption in the bloodstream.
Your body needs a small amount of sodium to function properly.
However, too much salt can be unhealthy — even deadly — and particularly bad for stress.
Sprinkling too much salt on your meals can lead to fluid retention, high blood pressure, and hypertension.
To make the biggest dent in your sodium intake, try looking for lower-sodium alternatives to packaged foods.
Opt for low-sodium varieties of canned vegetables and soups and avoid the store-bought version of your favourite snack in favour of making it yourself-hello, DIY popcorn!
Red and processed meat is regarded as the most controversial food in nutrition history.
Various studies have suggested a significant positive relationship between red meat intake and stress levels.
This is because most manufacturers add preservatives and sodium to these items to make them taste better and keep longer on the shelf.
Several mechanisms have been suggested that these chemicals may lower your energy levels and increase your tension.
Focus on whole-food sources of animal products. Try choosing freshly cooked beef slices, leaner cuts of chicken, turkey, or heart-healthy fish is a preferable options.
Excessive ingestion of high-sugar meals like coffee drinks, sauces, salad dressings, yoghurt, and boxed cereals can weaken the body’s ability to respond to stressful circumstances.
There is overwhelming evidence to support the fact that sugary foods can cause your cortisol levels to skyrocket. This causes stress in the body.
The greatest method to cut sugar from our diet is to first learn where sugar hides in our foods, which is pretty much everywhere, even in foods that don’t taste sweet.
Usually, coffee feels good in the short term, but too much of it can lead to elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can gear you up for the task at hand.
It can cause a rapid heartbeat and elevated blood pressure associated with anxiety.
Furthermore, caffeine can prevent you from getting a decent night’s sleep, which can manifest in feelings of fatigue, an inability to sleep and a mood crash after the effects wear off.
To keep your much-needed coffee from stressing you out, restrict your coffee consumption to one to two cups per day, excluding caffeinated beverages with high sugar levels, such as energy drinks or flavoured lattes. The same is true for all caffeinated beverages.
Fried food diets are usually loaded with fat and salt, which can lead to fatigue and sedentary lifestyles, both of which can contribute to stress.
Greasy, fried foods like chicken nuggets, fries and chips can make people feel lethargic and uneasy, and make them less likely to keep active.
Avoid fried foods unless you’re looking for a recipe for sluggish stress.
Rather than buying or producing fried dishes, try other methods of cooking such as sautéing or roasting using avocado oil, or steaming, grilling, or baking.
For those who struggle with anxiety, the jittery effects of alcohol might aggravate anxiety. Alcohol is depressive; therefore it may make matters worse.
It can also lower our levels of serotonin, the hormone associated with happiness, leading to greater anxiety.
You can reduce your alcohol consumption by drinking chamomile and lavender teas at the end of a long, which have been shown to have relaxing properties.
In conclusion, what we eat can set the tone for either a calmer or stressful day ahead.
While there’s no doubt that some of the foods are delicious, they are also detrimental to your health.
A higher intake of the foods on the list can contribute to a higher risk of depressive symptoms, anxiety and psychological distress.
So, be mindful from next time when you binge on these food products.
If persistent stress is keeping you unsettled, it’s best to opt for a stress test to identify the markers.
Then head straight to a doctor for proper consultation, medication and a piece of sound professional advice to manage and slowly overcome stress, completely.
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