A full glass of water.

How to Eat to Reduce Stress

When it comes to stress, what you do and do not eat can play a major role in how long it stays and how much it affects you.

There are many ways to deal with stress, including exercise, yoga, massage and meditation. Nutrition, however, is an avenue that can’t be overlooked. Eating and drinking sensibly helps fuel the body to produce the chemicals and neurotransmitters that fight stress and keep us in the right state of mind.

Nutritional Steps to Follow

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    Eating Habits to Adopt to Reduce Stress:

    Eat well : Concentrate on healthy foods, limiting your intake of sugar, glutens, salt, processed foods and caffeine. Eat at least 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Go for foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

    Eat, drink in moderation : Overeating and abusing alcohol are regular results of stress.

    Maintain a healthy weight : Stress can lead to significant weight gain or weight loss, which exacerbate the condition.

    Combine healthy eating with regular exercise : The end result of vigorous exercise is the release of endorphins, which produce calm.

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    The Best Foods to Reduce Stress:

    Green, leafy vegetables : Veggies like spinach are rich in folate, which helps the body produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine.

    Salmon, sardines and anchovies : These types of fish are good sources of tryptophan, which is an amino acid that the body converts into calming serotonin.

    Blueberries : They’re filled with anthocyanins and antioxidants that help the brain produce dopamine, which is a chemical that is critical for coordination, memory function and mood.

    Pistachios : They address vascular constriction. Just avoid the dyed versions, which don’t tend to be as fresh.

    Dark chocolate : It’s anti-oxidant rich and helps the brain produce anandamide, a neurotransmitter that blocks feelings of pain and depression. There’s a good reason why dark chocolate is called a natural anti-anxiety treatment!

    Avocado : It’s a wonder fruit that provides more than a dozen health-boosting nutrients, including potassium, Vitamin E, Vitamin B and folate.

    Turkey : Organic breast meat is a terrific source of tryptophan, which is an amino acid that the body converts into a calming serotonin.

    Pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds : They’re high in magnesium, which acts as a precursor for neurotransmitters like serotonin, a regulator of emotions.

    Whole grain cereal : Studies have shown that those who eat whole grain cereals every day often have lower levels of cortisol, which is a hormone that rises with stress.

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    Foods to Avoid During Stress:

    These are not foods that you should never eat, but should be consumed in moderation. Especially when you are feeling stressed, turning to these foods won't make you feel better in the long run. It's always better to eat things that fuel your body and make you feel good before the following list:

    - White flour
    - Processed meat
    - Fried food
    - Salt
    - Sugar
    - Caffeine
    - Alcohol

    This is not a list of "bad food." There is always a better option over another, especially during stressful times.

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