Eat to beat stress The Do Diet: You overslept, were called into an important lunch meeting and got caught in rush-hour traffic. It’s tempting to reach for a chocolate bar, but don’t! Take a deep breath and start using these proactive tricks to soothe stress and get on track.
By Karen Robock, consulting dietitian Ali Cherno Wed May 11 2011
1. Add some salmon to your salad
An omega-3 powerhouse, salmon is rich in mood-boosting B vitamins. Add a serving to some spinach tossed with cooked quinoa and orange and strawberry slices, or load a sandwich with smoked salmon for a super stress-busting lunch.
2. Have eggs for dinner
After a long, anxiety-filled day, a quick, a tasty meal goes a long way. Our top pick? Eggs. Most egg dishes take just minutes to make, and they’re packed with B vitamins (especially vitamin B12), which are known to help lift your mood. Studies also suggest that a deficiency in B vitamins may contribute to depression and other mood disorders. For an omelette, simply add chopped cooked spinach and asparagus (both are chock full of folate) to one or two lightly beaten eggs. Cook in a pan with about two teaspoons of butter over medium heat. Enjoy it with a couple of slices of whole-wheat bread. Or, for something a little more fun, try our tomato and egg pie (recipe below).
3. Put sliced kiwis, oranges and strawberries in your fruit salad
In one German study, participants who took 3,000 mg of vitamin C daily were less stressed before public speaking and math challenges, and their blood-pressure and cortisol levels returned to normal more quickly. This amount would be difficult to get from your food (one orange, for example, contains 80 mg) and is also 1,000 mg over the recommended daily intake, but our consulting dietitian says just getting enough vitamin C through your food can help improve mood.
4. Try flax two ways
This little seed is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to proper brain function, including the processes that regulate mood. Research suggests that omega-3s could help people better cope with stress.
Flax oil: Mix with balsamic vinegar and toss with salad for a tasty, refreshing lunch.
Flax meal: Add 1/4 cup of ground seeds to your favourite muffin recipe. Include pumpkin seeds for an added dose of omega-3s. Or sprinkle over yogourt or cottage cheese and add sliced fruit like cantaloupe for a tasty breakfast or snack.
5. Sip a vanilla latte to keep your cool
Research shows that the smell of vanilla may be a mood lifter. Make your own feel-good latte: Steam one cup of unsweetened vanilla soy milk and add coffee or espresso. Or, for a refreshing summer drink, pour it over ice. Opt for decaf if you plan on having more than two cups, or if you’re sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
6. Keep a stash of healthy snacks at work
When you go too long between meals, your blood-sugar levels drop, causing your mood and coping skills to crash. Nibbling every two to three hours will keep you on an even keel.
At your desk…
A 1/4 cup of mixed nuts tossed with 1/4 cup of dried fruits.
A serving of whole-grain crackers with a tablespoon of almond butter.
From the fridge…
One cup of chocolate milk (skim or 1%) and a fist-sized serving of fruit.
One slice of whole-wheat, rye or pumpernickel bread with half a can of tuna.
Not just for brunch!
Tomato & Egg Pie
Eggs are rich in B vitamins, which are proven to boost your mood.
Tomato & Egg Pie
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
130-g log creamy goat cheese, crumbled
6 sheets frozen phyllo dough, defrosted
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp chopped chives
1/4 tsp salt
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
5 strips low-sodium bacon, cooked (optional)
1. Position oven rack in bottom part of oven. Preheat to 325F. Place 8 small ramekins on a baking sheet.
2. Heat frying pan over medium. Add 1 tsp oil, then onions. Cook until onions are soft, 5 to 7 min. Stir in goat cheese until melted. Set aside.
3. Lay 1 phyllo sheet on counter. Lightly brush with oil. Place a second sheet overtop. Brush with oil. Repeat with remaining sheets and oil. Cut phyllo stack in half. Then cut each half into 4 quarters. Line each ramekin with a stack of phyllo, gently pressing against sides. Divide cheese mixture among ramekins. Whisk eggs with milk, Dijon, chives and salt in a bowl. Divide among ramekins.
4. Bake on bottom rack 20 min. Remove from oven. Place tomatoes in ramekins and crumble bacon overtop. Return to oven; continue baking until eggs are set, 25 to 30 more min. Let stand 10 min.
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