So you’re overwhelmed and in need of a snack. What do you typically reach for in times of duress – a chocolate bar or celery sticks? If you picked the sweet treat, you’re 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.
Try modifying your diet to include some of these soothing foods:
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.
“Keeping blood sugar levels can help people feel better throughout the day, which means less stress on the body,” said Beth Hubrich, a registered dietitian with the Calorie Control Council. “By making simple diet substitutions, practicing portion control and making sure their diet is “color rich” by eating fruits and vegetables, consumers can enjoy their favorite foods and beverages without the fear of additional stress or weight gain.”
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.
Blueberry Almond Coffeecake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 egg white
3 tablespoons SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
3/4 cup sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish. Set aside.
- Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add 1 cup SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener and flavorings; beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in berries. Spoon mixture into prepared dish.
- Beat egg white with a fork; add 3 tablespoons SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener, stirring until blended. Stir in almonds. Spoon mixture over batter.
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes.
Nutrition Info (per serving)
Calories 230, Calories from Fat 120, Protein 6g, Fat 13g (sat 6g), Carbohydrate 21g, Fiber 2g, Cholesterol 55mg, Sodium 210mg, Sugar 1g
Balsamic Brown Rice Salad
2 cups water
1 cup brown rice
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
1 tablespoon SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
- In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in rice, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, or until done.
- Transfer rice to a serving bowl, and stir in onion, celery, cranberries, salad dressing, and SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener. Cover, refrigerate, and serve cold.
Nutritional Information Per Serving
Serves 4; Calories 290; Calories from Fat 90; Fat 10g (sat 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 370mg; Carbohydrate 46g; Fiber 3g; Sugar 7g; Protein 4g