Whether it’s running a lavender-scented bubble bath, picking up a favourite book or even exercising, we all have different ways of dealing with stress and anxiety. Another popular “stress-buster” that we turn to is food. How many of you have come home from a stressful day at work, only to find yourself nose deep in a tub of ice cream or hulk-size portion of spaghetti? (Yes, I’m guilty!) Do you ever wonder the reasoning behind all of it? Meet cortisol (aka the stressed hormone). Our cortisol levels increase when we become stressed and tense, which then causes us to crave sugary, carby foods. This would be ok if we were about to run away from a hungry looking grisly bear because we would burn it off, but we’re not. All that excess energy from the sugars isn’t going to be used up so our bodies store it as fat. Maybe that momentary pleasure we feel when we eat junk food isn’t worth it after all!

Having said all this, food can help in times of stress, but it’s choosing the right ones that’s crucial. Here’s our top soothing snacks for when stress come knocking!

Peaches – When it comes to superfoods, the poor little peach often gets overlooked! They are high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and they act as a great natural diuretic for when you’re feeling a little bit “bunged up” down below! Not only this, they are also known to have calming and sedative-like effects. Many advise giving restless children a peach before bed to reduce their hyperactivity!

Turkey – Turkey is well known for its calming properties, and it’s all to do with L-tryptophan. L-tryptophan has a very relaxing effect and it’s actually the precursor to serotonin (our feel-good hormone).

Bananas – Bananas are awesome for relaxing our bodies. They are a fantastic source of potassium and magnesium, which are natural muscle relaxants, and many people, including myself, eat bananas to help soothe period pains. Instead of slumping under your duvet with a bar of chocolate, rustle up some of our super easy Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Muffins!

Swiss Chard – Like bananas, Swiss chard is packed with the anti-stress mineral, magnesium. Add Swiss chard to your favourite salad for dinner to relieve tired muscles and nerves.

Beans – Beans are definitely foods that help you snooze and beans like chickpeas and black beans are a triple threat! They are high in B vitamins, magnesium AND tryptophan! We knew hummus was delicious for a reason!

words by Molly Jennings