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Focus: Food choices to deal with stress of COVID-19

Bounded to house, worrying about the COVID-19 pandemic,  food habits and schedule altered, house chores added to the routine, managing work from home with literally endless work hours , snacking more than usual, sleep patterns changed, during such testing times it is easy to feel stressed out. It is important to take care of our mental health, do things which reduce stress. When we think of doing things that induce calmness or reduce stress, we think only of meditation, timely breaks. But have you heard this- “You are what you eat.” What you eat affects your stress levels equally.

Stress can affect you in many ways, reduced weight, unintentional weight gain, headaches, stomach upset, fluctuating blood pressure are a few to name. Reality check: Stress has never helped anyone to solve the issue they are stressing about.

What may help you cope with the stress is a healthy lifestyle and a change in your diet.

Believe it or not, food is a stress buster itself. Following diets that restrict you or eating more of junk will make you irritable, cranky and also fluctuate your mood levels. But choosing healthy diets, timing your food can do a great deal. By saying healthy we do not mean choosing food items that are tagged healthy by the industry experts and compromising on the taste. If you don’t like avocado, oats, quinoa, you can opt for your favourite simple home-cooked comfort food.

Here’s what you should consider for a balanced diet to cope with stress and also boost your immunity:

  1. Citrus: Citrus provides Vitamin C to the body, which supports the immunity.
  2. Eat your spices right: Cardamom, Cinnamon, Turmeric, Rosemary, Black pepper, Cumin and Saffron, they all have their own unique benefits. Cardamom has the natural minerals along with magnesium, calcium, Iron and potassium. It is the best spice to soothe the gut. Besides being rich in copper, Cumin also boosts production of RBC. Turmeric is the best spice for overall health, vitality and wellness. It aids digestion, boosts immunity. Besides adding the zing to the flavours, black pepper is also rich in manganese and vitamin K. Rosemary lowers stress, blood sugar and inflammation. Saffron is the protects the mood-boosting serotonin and dopamine in the brain, it is also believed to prevent anxiety and insomnia. Cinnamon keeps the blood sugar levels in check. Add some goodness to your soups, salads and stews by adding the right spices.
  3. Magnesium rich foods: Magnesium helps you feel calm. Legumes, nuts, leafy greens, whole grains can help support the immunity and also maintain the calm.
  4. Zinc rich foods: you may recognize zicam, which is used to treat cold. It contains zinc. It is believed that zinc has some virus-fighting effect. Cashews, oysters, egg yolks are good to go. You can also grab a few pumpkin seeds as they are rich in zinc as well as potassium.
  5. Omega 3 Fatty Acids: A study in 2011 showed that Omega 3s help lower anxiety and fight inflammation while providing other known benefits such keeping the blood pressure in check, reducing cholesterol. So why not add it to your diet and reap the benefit.
  6. Probiotic foods: Good bacteria are your friends. And consuming them will help you maintain a healthy heart, good digestive system and improved mood. Pickles, Yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir and miso are a few probiotics.
  7. Dark Chocolate: Yes! You read it right. Chocolates have both emotional and chemical impact on our mood. However, it is necessary to be moderate on the serving.

We know that staying at home is challenging and as it causes boredom and anxiety, eating healthy is getting compromised. But by giving it a thought and planning your meals, you can lower your stress levels and make good food choices.

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