Monday, June 27, 2011

Stressed out?

Between an insanely busy work schedule and an equally busy personal life of late, I really feel like I haven't had time to breathe. Seriously, I've been out of town every other weekend and even when we do stay local, there's very little down time. And during the week, I find I rarely make it home before 8 or 9 pm, thanks to late nights at the office and trips to the gym. The problem is, when I get busy and stressed out, I tend to NOT make the wisest diet choices. I don't reach for celery sticks or carrots in times of duress. I reach for chocolate or a bag of salty chips.

Apparently, I'm not alone. Studies show people crave rich, high-calorie foods when stress is unrelenting, hence the term “comfort food.” But emotional eating can generate additional anxiety, not to mention it sabotages any ongoing weight loss efforts. Fortunately, there are a number of healthy food alternatives that are chock-full of stress-relieving vitamins.

This article sheds some light on which soothing foods to add into the diet. Check it out...

Go nuts with almonds - A good source of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and E, almonds also contain magnesium and zinc. The B vitamins and magnesium are involved in the production of serotonin, which helps regulate mood and relieve stress, while vitamin E is an antioxidant that bolsters the immune system.

Grab a green, leafy veggie
– Broccoli, kale and other dark green vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins that help replenish our bodies in times of stress. Many vegetables also contain potassium, which can be calming on the nerves.

Opt for whole grains
- Whole grains including bulgur wheat, quinoa, wheat pasta, oats and brown rice, contain plenty of B vitamins and healthy fiber. They also supply complex carbohydrates that do not spike blood sugar levels in the same way that simple carbohydrates can.

Milk does a body good
– Low-fat or skim milk is very high in calcium and B vitamins, which help to build bones and protect nerve health. In addition, milk contains protein, which stabilizes blood sugar.

Check out some cottage cheese and fruit
– Cottage cheese also contains protein and calcium. Try mixing it with a fruit rich in vitamin C like cantaloupe or oranges.

Beef up on the lean meat - Beef contains zinc, iron, and B vitamins. Be sure to select lean cuts of beef such as top sirloin, top round and tenderloin.

Beat the blues with berries
– Blueberries are jam-packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, which are potent stress busters. As an added bonus, they're high in fiber and low in calories.

Your diet plays a crucial role in your overall well-being. In addition to incorporating these stress-fighting foods into your diet, sugar-free products sweetened with sucralose allow consumers to enjoy their favorite desserts and meals without worrying about the additional calories. For example, choosing sugar-free chocolate will save you 50 calories a day – or five pounds – by year’s end.

So the next time you crave sweets due to stress, avoid the full calorie fare and try reaching for a handful of blueberries or almonds. By eating wholesome foods on a regular basis, eventually your stress level will decrease and leave you less susceptible to food cravings.

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