When you’re stressed, you may start to hear the siren call of ice cream, French fries, and potato chips. But tempting as it may be to reach for these foods, there are better choices that will actually help relieve anxiety—and won’t have a detrimental effect on your waistline. Here, Keri Gans, M.S., R.D., author of The Small Change Diet, shares her four go-to edible stress busters.
Avocados are packed with B vitamins (proven stress-relievers), as well as monounsaturated fats and fiber, both of which help keep you full, says Gans. She recommends whipping up some homemade guacamole (but sticking to the suggested two-tablespoon serving size) and eating it with black bean chips. Alternatively, you could also just take half the fruit, add a squeeze of lime on top, and eat it with a spoon. Since avocado’s so creamy, it can actually satisfy ice cream cravings, says Gans.
In the mood for something sweet? Go for this childhood favorite. “Chocolate milk has potassium, which helps relieve muscle spasms if you’re dealing with physical stressors,” says Gans. Just make sure to stick with the low-fat version.
This fiber-packed food will keep you full and give you an instant lift to overcome stress. “Oatmeal helps with the production of serotonin, which is the feel-good chemical in our bodies,” says Gans. Use nonfat milk to make it (you’ll get extra protein and calcium), and mix in almond butter for added fiber and protein.
Low-calorie fruit is a great, healthful way to get your sugar fix. Raspberries in particular are full of stress-busting antioxidants and immune system-boosting vitamin C. If you want a more substantial snack or breakfast, Gans suggests tossing the fruit in nonfat or low-fat Greek yogurt.