Put down the sweet stuff … you’ll thank us later.
Mindless snacking is never a great idea, but more often than not, when stress hits an all-time high, we actually tend to forget to eat. In a perfect world, we’d eat nothing but nutritious, healthy foods when stressed but that is not always the case.
Below you will find a list of snacks which you must avoid:
Although complex carbohydrates can help give you the energy lift you need to power through a taxing day, there’s nothing complex about pretzels. You’ll get a temporary spike in energy, but it won’t last.
Instead, go for some carrots. Their bite-sized nature offers the same rhythmic repetition as repeatedly reaching into a bag of pretzels, and they’re full of good-for-you fibre and potassium.
Soy (a major ingredient in tofu) tends to be high in copper, which has been linked to higher than usual stress levels. Moreover, tofu tends to be made mostly of GMO ingredients, which many criticise for their still-unknown health effects. Plus, tofu’s not exactly a grab-and-go food, if you know what I mean. If you’re feeling stressed or rushed, best to opt for something else.
Instead, grab a pack of cooked or smoked salmon (those little snacks packs are perfect for when you’re in a tizzy). Mix it with some avocado oil, or squeeze a little lemon juice over it and top with salt and pepper. Salmon is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, which has well-documented stress-fighting superpowers.
This one’s probably a no-brainer, but just in case, go ahead and skip the sweets if you’re feeling stressed out. Turns out, the term ‘sugar rush’ has some very real implications, especially when you’re stressed. Bite into a chocolate bar and you’re bound to give yourself a massive glucose spike, but little in the way of sustainability.
Instead, snack on strawberries for a similar rush of sweetness. Plus, eating around the leafy tops will force you to slow down and snack mindfully, which should give you a nice bit of centering if you’re feeling stressed.
4. Coffee drinks
While coffee is a great source of energy, it’s also a great source of … well, energy … which can be tricky if you’re feeling stressed. Odds are, the coffee will boost your mood momentarily, but it’ll probably leave you feeling tweaky.
Coffee can be particularly dangerous if it’s very sugary, like a Frappuccino or flavoured latte. The added sugar isn’t doing you any favours, and odds are, the caffeine will send you into overdrive before you have a chance to calm down.
Instead, brew a cup of tea. Black or Rooibos will probably be your best bet, but chamomile is especially well-known for its calming effect.
5. ‘Energy’ anything
Whether you opt for an energy drink or an energy bar, proceed with caution. These snacks are usually full of sugar and carbohydrates.
If you need to refuel and re-energise, go with a handful of nuts instead. A quarter cup of almonds should hold you over until you can get a proper meal in you.
Alcohol is a depressant, and is widely known to raise cortisol levels (related to the stress hormone).
7. Fried food
More often than not, stress is your body’s way of saying it feels out of sink – often on a nutritional level. Fried foods pack next to no nutritional value. Add in the fact that fried foods are usually loaded with fat and salt, and you’re looking for a recipe for sluggish stress.
If you want the familiar crispness of french fries, drizzle a sliced sweet potato (packed with fibre and beta-carotene) with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pop it into the oven, and do some deep breathing exercises while it bakes. You’ll be feeling calmer in no time.
On-the-go snacks, like muffins, are usually devoid of protein, packed with empty carbs, and chock-full of sugar. Odds are, the muffin will provide an easy glucose spike off the bat, but you’ll be feeling hungry, cranky, and stressed again in an hour.
The better bet is a big plate of eggs. They’re packed with Vitamin D and full of slow-digesting protein, meaning you’ll stay full and focused until your mid-morning snack. Don’t have time to cook in the morning? Opt for the hard-boiled route for a breakfast with even less stress!