Stress Fighting Foods for Women

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 15,235
    When feeling stressed, it’s easy to reach for comfort foods, but they can sometimes make you feel worse. Beth Cahill goes over the real stress-fighting foods women should reach for when stressed.

    Beth Battaglino Cahill: Hi! I am Beth Battaglino Cahill, Executive director for HealthyWomen. Have you ever had one those days where you were just down and drained and you turned to food for pick me up? Whether its macaroni and cheese or chocolate chip cookie or fried chicken, we all had that favorite comfort food we turn to when we are feeling stressed or depressed.

    The problem is these foods can make us feel better for few minutes until the negative mood swings back into action. That's often result of the way certain foods raise and lower blood sugar or disrupt our bodily system in other ways.

    The good news is by selecting foods for meals and snacks that contain a balance of several beneficial nutritional elements you can strengthen your brain and body in ways that boost emotional health. Here is the place to start. Add magnesium to your diet.

    Dr. Pamela M. Peeke: Magnesium helps improve your mood and energy by supporting and producing the brain chemical serotonin. Now to get your fill you want to make sure diet includes foods that are high in magnesium, brown rice, spinach, black beans, and salmon.

    Beth Battaglino Cahill: Eat friendly fats.

    Dr. Pamela M. Peeke: Plants based fats are vital for brain health. In part they keep cell membranes fluid. How about all the avocados? I love those. Nuts and a wide range of seeds and virgin olive oil.

    Beth Battaglino Cahill: Choose complex carbohydrates. Just like fat is a bad word many women have shunned carbohydrates as a way to loose weight. Yet we often crave certain carbohydrate rich foods like sweets when more depressed or stressed, because carbohydrates produce serotonin which floods us with good feelings and calmness. But that blood sugar spike is fouled quickly by a crash. Often compounded by feelings of guilt about the enormous piece or two of cake we've just eaten.

    You need to consume carbohydrates every day to fuel your brain properly, but you need to eliminate or minimize refined or processed sugars. Which some people call table sugar. Instead, prioritize eating high quality simple and complex carbohydrates like whole grain, sweet potatoes, and beans. These complex carbohydrates contain fiber which helps to slow blood sugar level changes and reduce negative the effects on mood. For a quick energy grab a fruit like an apple or an orange which has the simple sugar fructose. Opt for omega-3 foods. Dr. Pamela M. Peeke: When it comes to depression the scientific evidence agrees that increase of omega-3 consumption actually helps reduce depression. This is especially noticeable among women who are pregnant or nursing, because when you are pregnant and nursing you are depleting your nutritional reserves of this vital fat. Easy sources of omegas include wild salmon, tuna, walnuts and hemp.

    Beth Battaglino Cahill: Make sure to balance your diet. Don't forget that to achieve emotional balance you need to have a good nutritional balance. That means including fats, carbohydrates, and proteins in your daily diet along with other beneficial nutrients and drinking enough fluids.

    It also means not skipping meals which can take a serious toll on your physical and mental health. In fact, having more smaller meals can keep you from feeling hungry throughout the day and actually decrease your overall calorie intake.

    If you've stopped eating junk food and added more home food and you are still experiencing mood problems, talk to your health care professionals to see what other issues might be causing the problem. I hope you will find these tips helpful in not just staying physically healthy, but emotionally healthy as well.