MAC Blog

MAC Blog

Rough day? Shift your mood with food!

Jennifer Jasmin - Thursday, April 20, 2017


April is National Stress Awareness Month. Did you know that 60% of all human illness and disease including heart disease, heart attack and stroke, is caused by stress and that 40% of stressed people overeat or eat unhealthy foods*? What we put in our bodies can either help relieve tension or make stress worse. Choosing the right foods during stressful times is vital for long term health. What better way to de-stress than to eat something nutritious that’s quick and easy to make, right? If you’ve heard it once before, you’re going to hear it a million times, eat your fruits and vegetables! Not only do they provide key nutrients and vitamins essential for everyday living, but they help to control emotional and physiological responses to stress as well! Consider eating these 5 foods next time you’re having a rough day:

  • Foods high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, such as oatmeal, or sweet potatoes. They cause the brain to produce more serotonin, which is a hormone that relaxes us and makes us feel happy and less stressed.
  • The more we stress, the more our body’s immune system becomes weakened and we cannot fight off diseases as fast as we would like. Therefore, fruits and green leafy vegetables high in antioxidants, such as berries, spinach, carrots, and citrus, are excellent sources to help boost immunity during stressful times.
  • Additionally, foods high in magnesium, selenium, and omega-3 fats like pumpkin seeds, pistachios, and walnuts are excellent choices as they are known to lower blood pressure and elevate mood.

As important as the good foods are to consider, you should also think about the foods NOT to consume when things are tense because they can potentially worsen symptoms. Unfortunately, when our bodies are feeling stressed or anxious, we release the hormone called cortisol, which triggers the body to crave sugar, but indulging in the craving just makes the stress cycle last even longer. Steer clear of these 5 foods next time you’re feeling anxious:

  • Foods and beverages that contain high amounts of caffeine such as coffee, milk chocolate, and energy drinks.
  • Foods high in saturated fat such as greasy french fries or other fried foods, ice cream, potato chips, or processed packaged foods.
  • Foods high in simple sugars such as donuts or pastries, pretzels, and white bread and pasta.
This month's Nutrition contributions were written by Jamie Ambach, Dietetic Intern learning alongside MAC Registered Dietitian, Jen Jasmin.