If you are like us, your stress level is at an all time high and you are beginning to feel the effects of prolonged stress in your body. The constant release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline weakens your immune system and leads to dangerous health problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. Living a lifestyle that counteracts effects of stress should be part of your overall plan for wellness and self care. Diet is a powerful lifestyle tool that can alleviate stress and mitigate the damage it does to your body.
Certain foods are natural mood enhancers that help you remain calm in stressful situations. Other foods actively repair the damage stress does at a cellular level, giving your body a powerful ally to fight the effects of stress. There are lots of different foods that will help you with stress management; these foods generally fall into the following five categories:
1. High in vitamins that fight the effects of stress and strengthen the immune system like blueberries, almonds, broccoli, beef and oranges
2. High in potassium and/or magnesium like spinach, avocados and apricots
3. High in folate/folic acid like leafy greens, broccoli, artichokes and arugula
4. High is Omega 3s like walnuts, fish and spinach
5. High in fiber like whole grains, artichokes, oats and broccoli
By combining these types of foods you can use your diet to help manage the level of stress in your life. Many foods in these categories are available throughout the year in Arizona. The wide variety of fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and herbs available from local farms, at the farmer’s market and in local grocery store give you a rich resource for creating a delicious, stress busting diet.
Let’s see how you can eat across these categories throughout the day to maximize the stress management benefits. Below is a sample menu offering ideas on how to incorporate the different types of foods at every meal. Full recipes can be found at Fill Your Plate via the links provided.
Start the day off right with a delicious bowl of oatmeal which is full of fiber and helps to boost the level of serotonin, a mood enhancing chemical, in your brain. Add a handful of blueberries and you get a rich source of vitamin C, additional dietary fiber and stress-busting antioxidants.
For a hearty brunch option, serve up a Zesty Papa Protein Scramble that incorporates spinach and avocados which are filled with magnesium and potassium and fiber-rich artichokes into an appetite appeasing, stress fighting meal for the whole family.
Looking for a light lunch? Try The Farmer’s Favorite Salad which is filled with stress-busting magnesium-rich spinach, walnuts that offer the benefits of Omega 3s and leafy greens packed with folate and topped off with a delicious dressing.
If you are in need of a hearty mid-day meal to fuel your afternoon, Tostados made with lean steak offer the stress reducing benefits of beef and the heartiness of beans, corn, and cheese. Whip up some fresh guacamole to add the stress busting benefits of avocados to your tasty Tostado.
Beginning with a fresh Avocado & Tomato Salad, a dinner filled with stress reducing foods is easy to pull together and fabulous for gathering the family around the table. Choose Rosemary-Sage Steak with fresh steamed broccoli for your main course and keep everyone at the table with Apple Crisp with almonds for dessert.
The variety of stress busting foods available from Arizona’s farms make it easy to eat a diet designed to fight the stress in your life and keep you healthy and hearty for years to come.
- Fresh Arizona Fruit: More than Just Desserts (fillyourplate.org)
- Top 10 Arizona Grown Foods that Are Natural Energy Boosters (fillyourplate.org)
- Spring Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing from Jan D-Atri (fillyourplate.org)