We get it. When you’re stressed, it might be tempting to reach for fast food that's quick, easy, and comforting. This is especially true if you're short on time.
But it's not just far healthier to forego the burger and fries for a thoughtful homecooked meal — it's also much more convenient than you may assume. Here are some recommendations for a breakfast, lunch, and dinner built to reduce your stress without weighing down your schedule.
Breakfast Stress Buster
Start your day with a stress-busting (and totally portable) breakfast of overnight oats. Just put 1/3 to ½ cup of old fashioned rolled oats in a jar or container with a lid. Add the same amount of milk or almond milk and mix. Drop in some blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries, as well as a few nuts like cashews and pine nuts. You can also add pumpkin seeds. Leave in the fridge overnight, then enjoy on the go in the morning.
The berries are very high in antioxidants, which help to reduce your stress levels while boosting your mood. The nuts and seeds are high in zinc which can lessen depression and anxiety. Research has found a strong correlation between low levels of zinc and depression.
Sprinkle in a little dark chocolate to lower hormone levels that provoke the fight or flight response. You want to choose chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa — the higher the percentage, the better. It is still chocolate, though, so be mindful of your portions.
Low Stress Lunch
A spinach salad is a great mid-day meal to help calm your stress while packing tons of nutrition. Magnesium-rich spinach is known to reduce stress, and you can enhance the salad's stress-busting properties even more with a few key additions.
You can top it all with some avocado, which is chock full of vitamins and minerals. This fiber-rich fruit will also help to manage your appetite so you're less likely to "stress eat."
Stress Less Dinner
Begin your evening with a healthy dinner designed to lower your stress response. Start with broiled salmon, which is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, especially stress-lowering DHA. Include a side of steamed asparagus for a healthy dose of folate.
A little yogurt topped with blueberries is the perfect dessert treat. Make sure you choose yogurt with active cultures to promote good gut health.