Eat to beat stress: The foods that can help anxiety

What to eat when you feel stressed...

Anti-anxiety foods
Anti-anxiety foods
(Image credit: Rex Features (Shutterstock))

What to eat when you feel stressed...

Here's some good news to keep in mind the next time you're stressed out: eating may be a great trick for staying calm. Unfortunately we’re not talking about stuffing your face with yummy mac and cheese or greasy fries. Instead, munching on one (or more) anti-anxiety superfoods will put you at ease, fast.

Dr Uma Naidoo, expert in both food and psychology, recently wrote an article for Harvard Health Publications on the power of food to treat anxiety.

She explains that while maintaining a balanced, healthy diet with plenty of water and lower levels of caffeine is key, there are specific foods to stock up on if you’re interested in treating your anxiety through nutrition.

Here’s what she recommends eating to calm anxiety: 

- Anything naturally rich in magnesium. Think leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

- Anything naturally rich in zinc, such as oysters (fancy), cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks.

- Fatty, omega-3-rich salmon

- Probiotic-rich foods like pickles, sauerkraut, and kefir (something you can easily pick up in Whole Foods)

- Asparagus

- Anything rich in B vitamins. We’re talking avocados and almonds.

We are thrilled to find out that avocados are way more than just a toast-topper and Instagram trend. They have serious mental health benefits – along with pickles, certain vegetables, egg yolks, and other delicious foods.

(Image credit: Rex Features (Shutterstock))

Studies have also shown that while these superfoods make us feel calmer, others can in fact act as stimulants — at least temporarily. So if you experience stress and anxiety or panic attacks, making some modifications to your diet may help alleviate your symptoms. Here’s what to avoid:

* Coffee and caffeinated drinks

* Sweets (boo)

* Alcohol (double boo)

* Hot dogs – and generally all foods involving processed meat. Think sausages, pies and cakes.

Researchers in London found that eating a diet of processed and fatty foods increases the risk of depression. In the study, people who mainly ate fried food, processed meat, high-fat dairy products, and sweetened desserts had a 58 percent higher risk of depression than those who ate "whole" foods such as fish and vegetables. 

So as a general rule, steer clear of over-processed foods if you want to improve your mood. And whether it’s to up your Instagram likes or to improve your health, avocados seriously rule.

The leading destination for fashion, beauty, shopping and finger-on-the-pulse views on the latest issues. Marie Claire's travel content helps you delight in discovering new destinations around the globe, offering a unique – and sometimes unchartered – travel experience. From new hotel openings to the destinations tipped to take over our travel calendars, this iconic name has it covered.