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Foods that cause you stress

7 Foods That Stress You Out

People usually turn to food so they can feel better – chocolate comes to mind here. But did you know that there are some foods that actually cause you stress and contribute to your anxiety? We list below 7 foods and drinks that you should avoid if you want to destress.

1. White flour
White flour is processed and stripped from the fiber-rich layers in it. As a result, it gets absorbed quickly into the bloodstream causing a spike in blood sugar levels, which in turn releases cortisol in the body causing stress. So to reduce your consumption of white flour which is in a lot of baked goods, switch to whole grain products and brown rice.

2. Salt
Salt may be a great flavor addition to your meals, but too much sodium leads to fluid retention, hypertension and high blood pressure. The result? More stress on your heart. Try to reduce your sodium intake in order to keep your stress levels low; but this doesn’t only mean salt, it means paying attention to the sodium content of the food you buy and making sure you don’t consume more than 2.3g of sodium per day.

3. Sugar
Like salt, sugar is also a stress trigger. Continuous consumption of high-sugar foods and drinks like soft drinks and desserts causes unstable blood sugar levels. This puts stress on your body and increases the levels of cortisol which is known as the “stress hormone”. As a result, you feel anxious and stressed out. Check out how you can fight your sugar cravings.

4. Caffeine
Do you know what else increases your cortisol levels? It’s caffeine. Besides that, consuming caffeine-rich drinks leads to high blood pressure and accelerated heartbeats links with anxiety. Caffeine also blocks the absorption of vitamins B and D, which are nutrients that boost your mood. Finally, too much caffeine means lack of sleep which in turn results in fatigue-induced stress.

5. Processed meat
Processed meat like hot dogs, sausage, and bacon are pumped with preservatives, sodium and additives that can decrease your energy and increase your stress levels. While it may be hard to remove them entirely from your diet, try to focus on meat that comes from whole food like turkey or chicken breast.

6. Fried foods
Do you ever notice how you start to feel tired after eating fried food? That’s because it decreases your energy and contributes to your stress levels. So whenever you can, choose steaming, grilling, or baking over frying.

7. Alcohol
We usually drink alcohol to destress, because basically alcohol is a depressant that sedates you temporarily and calms you down. But excessive drinking decreases serotonin levels and contributes to anxiety. So if you’re looking to destress after a long day, why not try chamomile or lavender tea which both have calming effects.

Finally, while you surely can’t quit all these foods entirely, it’s a good idea to limit them and to focus on food that makes you feel good instead. 

Christelle Bedrossian
Dietitian-Nutritionist
Beirut, Lebanon

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Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian

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