Eating food is relaxing, provided it is done in a peaceful environment. When you eat with family and spend some time eating and talking, it can be relaxing. But more often than not people are in a rush and are fortunate if they can even eat one meal in peace with family, without the dining table turning into a war zone. On the other side is the reality that emotional eating – often due to stress – is a contributory factor towards the obesity epidemic that currently rages in the U.S.
Here are 12 food habits that will actually help you reduce stress without stuffing or starving yourself.
- Eat at regular intervals – if you wait too long between meals you can actually be ravenous by the time you actually eat and so have the wrong foods or over eat.
- Start the morning by eating a healthy breakfast – this will help you feel energetic and composed and so reduce stress levels.
- When you feel hungry in between meals – reach for some mixed nuts and seeds or just nuts. These help keep cortisol levels low, again serving to reduce stress. However, nuts are usually high in calories, so don’t overeat, particularly if you are watching your weight.
- Don’t resort to eating for stress relief – instead go for a walk or meditate or take up a hobby or go and watch a movie to de-stress instead of reaching for food.
- Eat slowly and in a relaxed environment – even if you are eating alone, don’t sit in front of the television and eat. Digestion starts in the mouth, so chew your food well before swallowing. When your environment is relaxing, you will also reduce stress levels in your body
- Don’t reach for alcohol or caffeine to take the edge off – it may be a habit or what you think is a necessity to have alcohol or some java just to relax. Too much of either will actually increase your stress levels as it will prevent you from resting.
- Tryptophan is actually relaxing – so have a glass of milk, or better still cocoa if you are feeling wired. It will calm you down.
- Load up on Vitamin C – helps boosts immunity and reduces stress. Indulge in citrus fruits either whole or as juice.
- Keep hydrated – when you are hungry or stressed, reach for a glass of water. It will help soothe frayed nerves and keep you hydrated. Water is the best zero calorie drink to have. If you don’t like plain water have flavored water or water with a twist of lime and mint.
- When you need comfort foods – reach for a banana, baked or boiled potatoes or sweet potatoes. They provide energy and bulk and fill you up.
- Have some herbal tea – green tea or chamomile tea has a calming effect and will help reduce stress levels without adding calories to the diet.
- Add soup to your diet – a bowl of hot soup is comforting and can be a healthy snack, especially if you add lots of vegetables to the soup and make it at home and not have the packet variety.