Stress eating. It’s a real thing.
In response to all the political turmoil, I’ve eaten more takeout and candy in the last week than I usually do in a month. Maybe several months. But how can I get myself to the grocery store when I can barely get myself out of my pajamas? How can I be expected to chop vegetables and roast a chicken when I can’t concentrate? How can I deny myself those fries when there is so much sadness and anxiety all around me?
While there’s nothing wrong with a treat now and again, we all know that too much junk food won’t make you feel any better in the long run—it’ll just give you a sugar hangover and sabotage your health habits. And that’s no good. All of us need to stay well right now, so let’s reach for nutrient-rich foods that will help us to reduce stress. It’s going to take a lot of energy to smash the patriarchy.
And if you can’t eat well for yourself right now, do it for Michelle.
Banana Almond Oatmeal by mamacaroni at AllRecipes
This simple, comforting meal is comprised of three foods which all help to combat stress: oatmeal (helps produce serotonin), banana (high in potassium and keeps blood sugar up), and almonds (contains vitamins which support a stressed immune system). Try adding some dried fruit or a dash of pumpkin pie spice.
Mixed Berry Smoothie Bowl by Minimalist Baker
I adore smoothies, but sometimes you really want to eat breakfast with a spoon. This smoothie bowl is my latest obsession, in part because it contains berries, which are rich in vitamin C and the perfect choice to give you some calm at the beginning of your day. For extra goodness, blend in a handful of spinach, or top with chia seeds. (You could also make this as a dessert!)
Loaded Greek Asparagus Omelette by Whole & Heavenly Oven
According to NPR, eggs with greens are the favored breakfast of Drew Ramsey, a psychiatrist at Columbia University and author of The Happiness Diet. Eggs, a protein-rich food, will keep you full for longer (i.e. less likely to reach for those cookies), and the asparagus will give you a healthy dose of folate, which prevents anemia. Plus, the tomatoes and feta make this a truly delicious way to destress. Bonus points for closing your eyes and pretending you’re on a Greek island while you eat the omelette.
The Ultimate Detox Salad by The Roasted Root
It is quite possible that I’ve harped on about this salad in every single food article I’ve ever written, but it’s really that good. It’ll take some prepping at the beginning of the week (and it is a lot of vegetables), but I promise you, you won’t be sorry. Almost every ingredient is fantastic for your body, but for combatting stress in particular, the avocado, kale, broccoli and walnuts are all winners.
Coconut Broccoli Soup by 101 Cookbooks
This soup tastes totally creamy but is dairy-free, making it an excellent choice when you have an anxiously growling stomach. Broccoli, which contains folic acid, is, “very helpful for lowering stress levels and preventing irritability.” This soup also contains immune system-boosting garlic and nutrient-rich spinach. Add tofu or chicken for extra protein.
Grilled Avocado Sandwiches by Vegan Yumminess
On a scale of One to Let’s all go to Wisconsin, how much do you want a grilled cheese sandwich right now? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with eating cheese in moderation (especially when it’s made from the milk of grass-fed cows), but it’s not the very best pick when you’re stressed out. Avocados, on the other hand, offer stress-relieving B vitamins, plus, with some salt they somehow taste as rich and delicious as the most decadent junk food.
Salmon Burgers by MyRecipes
Salmon is a popular food for its distinctive taste, versatility and health value, particularly its offering of omega-3 fatty acids. Some studies show that, “omega-3s can help protect neurons against the damage that can be done by chronic stress.” I know that chronic stress is something we’re all too familiar with right now, so let’s bone up on how to cook salmon. For starters, these salmon burgers are a perfect alternative to a drive-thru burger. If you’re craving a side, serve them with oven-cooked sweet potato fries.
Creamy Chicken & Herb Skillet by Iowa Girl Eats
Eating chicken for dinner can help you sleep, which is a definite priority when your stress levels are soaring. This dish from Iowa Girl Eats only takes 15 minutes to make (!) so you can cook, eat and clean up in the amount of time it takes to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls. (Keep it streaming in the background? OK!)
Vegan Mongolian Noodles And Veggie Stir Fry by Carve Your Craving
This is another super-quick, super-easy meal that is great for you and it comes with a whole rainbow of vegetables—red cabbage, green pepper, baby corn, carrots and kale—that look simply beautiful in the wok together. Dark leafy greens, which are rich with vitamin A, vitamin K, and potassium, will slay your stress dragons.
Chocolate-Covered Strawberries by The Kitchn
Berries, we already know, are wonderful for combatting stress. Combine that with a covering of dark chocolate, which is thought to, “help boost mood and sustain clear thinking,” and you have a great deadline-crushing snack.
Harvest Fruit Compote by Greatist
A seasonal recipe that you can adapt to your personal tastes, this compote has no added sugar. Citrus fruits and plums are rich in vitamin C, plus apples are great for your teeth—definitely a boon if you’re still eating through your leftover Halloween candy.
Healthy Flapjack Recipes by Cosmopolitan
First of all, I should clarify that “flapjacks,” which apparently mean pancakes in the U.S. (I say apparently because people always tell me this, but I never hear it in conversation. And I talk about pancakes a lot), are different in the U.K. These afternoon snacks are traditionally made with oats, butter, dememara sugar and golden syrup, and my ability to whip up a batch between essays made me very popular in my university flat. They’re easy enough to modify with stress-reducing foods, such as in this recipe, which contains pumpkin and flax seeds, and raspberries.
Let’s make Michelle proud!
What are your favorite foods for when you’re trying to avoid stress eating? Tweet us @LitDarling!
Photos by Cara Difabio
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