You may think that the stress in your life is just a result of your hectic schedule or financial worries. But what you may not realize is that the food you eat for comfort could not only adding stress to your system, but could also be causing you to see the challenges in your life as more stressful than they are.
Here are three foods that many of us crave when under stress, why they have a tendency to cause a dive, and how we can use them to help us thrive.
Why they cause a dive: Many of us go for sweets when we're stressed, and nothing seems to be as soothing as chocolate. Though chocolate contains health-boosting flavonoids, the majority of chocolate treats out there are loaded with sugar. This wreaks havoc on your insulin levels, which in turn can worsen your mood and your metabolism.
A study of rats who binged on sugar found that they were more anxious both after eating high-sugar foods and when they were denied the sugary foods, which suggests that sugar has an addictive quality. Scientists have also found a connection between eating chocolate and feeling depressed.
How to thrive: If you want chocolate, eat dark chocolate. Look for at least 70% cacao (not cocoa) as it contains high levels of flavonoids that help with energy. Dark chocolate is also loaded with tryptophan, a precursor for serotonin, and contains theobromine, which can create the feeling of bliss.
If you're stressed, go ahead and cut off about one inch of dark chocolate and savor it. You can make it your "happy treat" every evening.
Why they cause a dive: Unless they're lactose intolerant, most people tolerate dairy just fine in small amounts, but often people don’t stop at a small portion, especially when it comes to cheese. Why? Cow cheese is loaded with a protein called alpha-s1 casein that seems to promote addiction to dairy because in the body it gets turned into a casomorphin, an opiod peptide (like morphine).
Eating too much cow cheese may have a host of negative affects, including fatigue, brain fog or irritability, and this particular casein can trigger allergies.
How to thrive: You may want to go dairy-free for a few weeks to break the habit. After that, if you still want to enjoy cheese, consider may want switching over to goat dairy, which is thought to be easier for your body to digest.
Some yummy ways to add goat cheese to your diet that will make your belly happy and your mind more calm are to add about a tablespoon of crumbled goat cheese to your salad or add a teaspoon to flavor any burger, vegetable frittata, or omelet.
Why they cause a dive: Every cell of your body has a fat membrane, which means you need fat in your diet to live and survive. Additionally, you need fat to help you absorb the majority of your nutrients.
Research shows us that strict “low fat diets” are actually detrimental to your health. The problem isn’t fat, but the kind of fat, and quantity, that most people consume. Too much bad fat (including some saturated fats, and the kinds found in processed foods) can lead to weight gain, heart disease and has even been linked to certain types of cancer.
How to thrive: The good news is that there are plenty of fats that are good for you, including the kinds found in nuts, avocado, and cold-pressed olive oil. Polyunsaturated fats found in seafood like salmon or safflower oil have also been shown to have beneficial effects.
A great and easy way to get this source of fat is by adding a teaspoon of coconut oil to your tea or coffee. It will add a delicious flavor to the drink.
If you're craving a sweet and want to help yourself thrive rather than dive, try my yummy chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Dr. Eva’s Kid-Approved Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 12 to 16 cookies