School serves several purposes in shaping a child’s life, from providing a structured education, to fostering psychological and mental growth, building confidence and teaching them basic survival skills. However, sometimes the education system can be quite challenging for children. When assignment deadlines pile up, students often experience a tremendous level of stress. And if stress is ignored for a long time, it can lead to significant anxiety or depression.
So if you’re wondering how you can help your child reduce their stress levels, be aware that food can play a major role.
One of the ways to help your kid cope with stress is to keep an eye on what they eat. Eating the right foods (and avoiding others) can help students deal with stress, anxiety and depression. This week, we bring you a rundown on what to eat and what not to eat when one is stressed.
Stressed out? Try these foods:
Dark chocolate–According to a clinical trial published in the ACS Journal of Proteome Research, eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduces levels of stress hormones in people who feel highly stressed. Dark chocolate helps to improve mood by increasing serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain.
Blueberries– Blueberries are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants; the Vitamin C helps regulate cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland, and prevents an increase in blood pressure during stressful situations. The elevated level of cortisol in the body suppresses normal functioning of the digestive and reproductive systems and growth processes, too. When your child is stressed, he/she needs vitamin C and antioxidants to help repair and protect their cells.
Avocado– Avocado contains folate, lutein, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and glutathione. They are also high in monounsaturated fats, which lower blood sugar spikes that can lead to anxiety and stress.
Eggs– Eggs help relieve stress as they are rich in nutrients such as calcium, vitamins D and A, protein, thiamine, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid. They are regarded as a comfort food because the minerals in eggs have mood-boosting effects. The protein also keeps blood sugar levels steady, and in turn fights anxiety and keeps you energetic throughout the day.
Keep these foods to a minimum when stressed out:
Ice-cream– A scoop of ice-cream in your favourite flavour can be quite difficult to resist. But ice-creams, pastries, etc. increase stress hormones since they are high in refined sugars. Research has proven that even though sugars do not cause anxiety, they are responsible for causing changes in the body that can impair your ability to cope with stress, and in turn aggravate symptoms of anxiety.
Fried foods– Fried foods are high in trans fats and are also very difficult to digest. Eating a burger and French fries after a stressful day can actually be quite harmful. According to a study in the Journal of Public Health Nutrition, people who eat fast food are 51% more likely to develop depression.
White flour products– White flour found in pastries and white bread is extremely harmful. Just like sugars, refined flour causes a significant rise in blood sugar, and people who are sensitive to gluten can experience symptoms such as anxiety.
Salty foods– Indulging in too much salt is not a good option, especially when you’re stressed out. Consuming too much salt can deplete potassium in your body, which is an essential nutrient for the functioning of the nervous system. In addition, salty foods also contribute to moodiness and fatigue, which in turn can lead to stress.
Apart from knowing which foods to eat and which to avoid, it is also important to make sure your children exercise and get adequate sleep in order to keep their stress levels at bay.