Currently, food is seen not only a source of energy but also as a source of pleasure and well-being. Often associated with moments of interaction with friends or family or even as an “escape” from the emotional stress and tension of daily life to which we are subject. These last situations can promote an increase or decrease in appetite at these times, and it is crucial to evaluate eating habits and their changes in periods of greater stress. In this sense, we can say that the way we eat can be influenced by the emotional state that we go through at any given time.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter with a high influence on our emotional state. When its levels are adequate, it provides a feeling of well-being and calm. When it is low, it causes symptoms of a bad mood, irritability, insomnia, uncontrolled appetite (especially the ones that provide us more energy, such as sweets), and may even evolve, in severe cases, depressive symptoms. It directly interferes with the control of hunger and satiety and, its levels are dependent on the intake of foods rich in tryptophan.
There is evidence that stress and anxiety are directly associated with appetite and feeling hunger, providing a greater likelihood of food intake less “healthy” high in sugar and fat during these periods.
What are the main foods associated with controlling stress and anxiety?
• Oats – In addition to having Tryptophan in its nutritional composition, this cereal has a very high satiating power, which will provide more gastric comfort at the time of more anxiety, avoiding an uncontrolled food intake.
• Bananas – With Tryptophan in its composition allows assisting in moments when “we feel like eating something sweet”, satiating healthily.
• Citrus Fruits and Berries – Fruits such as oranges or blueberries are sources of vitamin C and antioxidants. These compounds help in immunity and control the levels of Cortisol, a hormone that is also altered in times of stress.
• Asparagus – Rich in folic acid, vitamin (B9), which suffers a decrease in its values when we are faced with a situation of depression and emotional distress
• Tea – Is always a good option, both for this purpose and for helping with hydration. The most recommended teas for calming are Chamomile, Lime, and Valerian tea.
Even though there are foods that seem to help stress and anxiety, the truth is that having a balanced diet and practicing sports is undoubtedly the best strategy to adopt for a better life. Privileging the intake of food from all groups and consuming food slowly and in peaceful environments is undoubtedly the attitude that will most help in this control.