Learn what to eat when you’re feeling stressed, cranky, sad and more
While that tub of ice cream in the back of the freezer may be what you crave when you’re feeling blue, there is a long list of other (healthier!) foods that can cure a grouchy morning or a stressed-out afternoon. We talked to the experts to get the scoop on what to eat to make you feel better no matter what your mood.
Stressed: Eat Chocolate
The scenario: It’s Friday at 6:30 p. m. You’re hungry, tired and late for your dinner date. You were supposed to be out of work an hour ago, but your boss has asked you for a favor…again. The stress is building, so what can calm you down fast? Now’s the time to pull out the chocolate bar hiding in the back of your desk drawer. Experts say that chocolate – particularly dark chocolate – may help reduce the stress hormones that are swarming in your body. In fact, a recent study by researchers in Switzerland, published in the Journal of Proteome Research, found that eating just a smidge of dark chocolate (about 1.4 ounces) has the power to lower the stress hormones cortisol and catecholamines in the body, reducing your anxiety and giving you a better chance to get the job done – and make your date.
Sluggish: Eat a Spinach Salad
Can’t concentrate? Trouble keeping your eyes open? Skip the coffee and have a spinach salad instead, says Joanna Dolgoff, MD, author of Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right. “Folic acid, or folate, helps your body to process and lower homocysteine levels,” says Dr. Dolgoff. “High levels of homocysteine are associated with damage to blood vessels, in addition to interfering with the flow of blood and nutrients to the brain. Impaired blood flow may leave you feeling sluggish or slow to process or recall information.” The best way to get a boost? Eat folate-rich foods like spinach and other leafy green vegetables as well as potatoes,
fortified breads and cereals, beans, peas and mushrooms.
Cranky: Eat an Apple with Peanut Butter
Did you snap at your kids…and the telemarketer on the phone? Crankiness can be a sign that your body needs fuel. Just be sure to refuel the right way: with foods that don’t leave you with a blood sugar crash an hour later, setting the crankiness cycle in motion all over again. To blast irritability, “eat combination foods at each meal and snack,” says Dr. Dolgoff. “Combination foods contain a carbohydrate in combination with either some protein or some fat. Carbohydrates are a great source of energy that quickly burns out. Adding some fat or protein will slow the digestion process, causing your sugar and energy levels to remain stable for a longer amount of time. A great example of a combination snack is an apple with peanut butter. The apple is your healthy complex carbohydrate and the peanut butter is a healthy fat. Combining these powerhouse foods tastes delicious and gives you energy that lasts for hours!”
Anxious: Eat a Salmon Burger
Worrying about your finances, your marriage, your kids? If anxiety and worries are consuming your day, consider heading out to lunch with a friend. The conversation will do you good, and so will the meal – if you order salmon, which is one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient that may help tame your anxiety. “Regular consumption of omega-3s has extensive research support for both the prevention and treatment of clinical depression.