Did you know that certain nutrients can help our bodies cope better with stress? Here are the best recipe ideas you need to add to your shopping list – approved by the experts
Stress is caused by so many different factors – from work pressure to money and health worries, and it’s these triggers that cause our body to react. For example, we produce more stress-response hormones when feeling anxious. While on the other hand, we can feel more on edge when our blood sugar spikes and drops.
The good news? Eating certain vitamins and minerals can help our bodies and brains retain a bit more balance, which can give us a great starting point to deal with stress. Here are 23 food and drink ideas to help you cope better with the demands and pressures of life, chosen by our contributing dieticians Dr Carrie Ruxton and Jo Travers.
De-stress breakfast ideas
Why? These warming eggs contain vitamin B and a fifth of our daily nutrient reference value of vitamin D – both of which play a role in stabilising our mood. And vitamin-C-rich pepper, which helps support our adrenal glands (these produce stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline).
Why? Protein is key for helping to balance the neurotransmitters in our brain – they are made using the amino acids in proteins as building blocks. Yoghurt is rich in protein, while berries contain vitamin C.
Why? Both cottage cheese and oats are rich in protein, while blueberries are packed with vitamin C.
Why? Protein-rich yoghurt meets vitamin-C-rich berries.
Why? These granola pots contain both magnesium-rich cacao and selenium-rich sunflower seeds. Magnesium helps to relax the body by limiting levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, while selenium is an antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress in our body and brain.
De-stress lunch ideas
Why? Avocados are rich in magnesium and peas are high in vitamin B – at times of mental stress or anxiety, the body needs more vitamin B to help turn protein into stress-fighting neurotransmitters.
Why? Vitamin-B-rich wholegrains and vitamin-C-rich pepper are a powerful combination. Cheeses such as feta can also be high in vitamin D – when levels of this vitamin drop, so do levels of the stress-fighting neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.
Why? This healthy salad contains both vitamin-D-rich mackerel and magnesium-rich beetroot.
Why? Not only does this dish contain protein-rich chicken, cashews are also a great source of the antioxidant, selenium.
Why? Pumpkin is a good source of zinc. The immune system is depleted by prolonged stress and zinc is essential for keeping it healthy. Protein-rich seeds and vitamin-C-rich pepper are also effective for dealing with stress.
De-stress dinner ideas
Why? With protein-rich beans and turkey this is a great dinner choice. Plus, all B vitamins (B6, 9, 12, thiamine and folate) are present in turkey, helping to fight stress and anxiety.
Why? Green vegetables such as broccoli are a good source of chromium – we need it to make the mood-boosting hormone serotonin, and it has a role in blood sugar regulation. This risotto also contains vitamin B-rich wholegrains and salmon.
Why? Beef is rich in both zinc and protein, while broccoli contains mood-boosting chromium.
Why? Mushroom are another food rich in vitamin D, plus protein-rich chickpeas and magnesium-rich leafy greens make it a great stress-fighter.
Why? For a veggie dinner idea, try cauliflower steaks. Cauli contains vitamin C, while goat’s cheese is a good source of vitamin D.
De-stress snack ideas
Why? Yoghurt is high in protein while tasty pecans are rich in magnesium.
Why? Brazil nuts are particularly high in oxidative stress-fighting selenium, while seeds, particularly chia, are protein-rich.
Why? Pumpkin contains zinc and sunflower seeds are a source of selenium.
Why? Beetroot contains stress-reducing magnesium, while snacking veg is a great source of vitamin C.
Why? Chickpeas are particularly high in protein, coupled with the vitamin-C-rich veg.
No-alcohol drinks ideas
These no-alcohol cocktail ideas are a great alternative to your favourite tipples. Opt for low alcohol or zero alcohol drinks whenever you can – it may help you feel more in control of your stress levels.
Want to find out more about how certain foods can help you fight stress? Check out these 7 nutrients that are proven to help us cope with anxiety, all backed by science.