Sunday, May 26, 2013

Decrease Stress Through Food (No, I Don't Mean Ice Cream and Chocolate)

Well, maybe a little chocolate... 

but only because the secret to eternal happiness is trapped inside a single piece of chocolate that's hiding in one container within one country somewhere in the world, and the only way you'll ever know the answer is to consume chocolate in hopes of finding that one piece.  


We all know that eating well and exercising regularly is great for our health.

We also know that exercise produces endorphins, and in the wise words of Elle Woods from Legally Blond:

It's all so very simple.


We've all heard the the phrase, "You are what you eat."

Can diet effect mood?  

The answer on a very basic level is, of course, yes. The worse your health is, the worse you feel, physically.  If you're feeling sick or tired, your mood will obviously not be at its best.  This is obvious.

But what about specific foods?  Is it possible to decrease stress through incorporating specific foods into your diet?

According to sites ranging from WebMD to Better Homes and Gardens to Marie Claire, the answer appears to be yes.

They all seem to point to the same specific nutrients within foods:  B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, omega fatty acids, and zinc.  There are more, of course, but these are the major nutrients mentioned.

As far as specific foods are concerned, they all agree on...
  •  Almonds
  •  fatty fish
Yep.  That's all.

I guess everyone is doing their own spin on it, but there didn't appear to be a great deal certainty, here.  Indeed, some of the suggestions had me outright giggling.

WebMD, for example, recommended a bedtime snack.  This isn't exactly horrible, but a snack eaten too close to bedtime can cause heartburn.  That's not about to make my stress levels drop...

But that's not all.  They also mentioned simple carbs... complete with displaying a photo of a bunch of lollipops. 

Oh, WebMD...

But they're not alone.  Better Homes and Gardens recommends... corn flakes.


In their defense, they're really talking about nutrient fortified cereals, rather than corn flakes, specifically.  Their choice of example, however, is sorely lacking in forethought.  Perhaps they could have chosen an example with a higher fiber count, for example.

The point?  Low fiber breakfast cereals are highly processed, and not good for you - even if they are vitamin fortified.

Marie Claire, on the other hand...

Honestly, Marie Claire had the best, most healthy advice of the three, in my opinion.  This is actually pretty amazing, when you consider that I'm the last person that would ever buy their magazine at a newsstand.  There's nothing wrong with it, understand.  It's just not my number one choice of magazine. 

Or number 10, for that matter...

But their advice was good.  The piece's reasoning made sense, and not one food choice caused me to roll my eyes in frustration.  It's worth looking into.

The conclusion?
  • Almonds and fatty fish may help to decrease stress levels... everything else appears to be debatable.
  • If you don't like almonds or fatty fish, eat chocolate instead.  Because you need to find that one chocolate that holds the secret to eternal happiness. Just because.
I'll continue looking into this.  I'd like to believe, after all, that choosing appropriate foods can help reduce stress levels.

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