Stress relief and the food we eat

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By Denise Murray

Health and recipe blogger

As we enter the time of year we all come together around the table, I wanted to share some thoughts with you on the foods we eat.

The average person eats almost 1500 pounds of food a Year! On average, that can be thought of as 150 pounds of meat, 290 pounds of milk and cream, 35 pounds of eggs, 48 pounds of chicken, 68 pounds of bread, 125 pounds of potatoes, and 80 pounds of fruit. That should be enough to fill your stomach.

It takes just 40 days for most Americans to earn enough money to pay for their food supply for the entire year. In comparison with the 129 days it takes the average American to earn enough money to pay federal, state and local taxes for the year.

More than 96 billion pounds of edible "surplus" food is thrown away in the U.S. Each year. It is estimated that almost 27% of our food supply is wasted.

Americans are eating about 14 pounds of turkey apiece each year, more than double the rate 20 years ago. In America, an average family of four consumes almost 6000 pounds of food per year. You're more likely to be hungry if you're cold! Temperature can affect your appetite. It takes 3500 calories to make a pound of fat! So, as long as you're active, and burning off calories, calories shouldn't have too much of a chance to turn into fat.

We are what we eat. We eat well, we are healthy and stress free. We eat poorly; we have poor health and get stressed easily. In order to manage your stress, food plays a very important role. If you feed yourself high energy and nutritious foods potentially stressful situations won't bother you because you have the energy and stamina to cope. On the other hand if you eat poorly your energy levels will be depleted and potentially stressful situations will become stressful.

Stress Relief Foods that we can eat on a day-to-day basis:

  • Turkey contains an amino acid called L-tryptophan. This amino acid triggers the release of serotonin, which is a feel-good brain chemical. This is the reason why many people who eat turkey feel relaxed, or even tired, after eating it. L-Tryptophan has a documented calming effect.
  • Salmon: Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids protect against heart disease. A study from Diabetes & Metabolism found that omega-3s keep the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline from peaking.
  • Nuts are a favorite when feeling stressed or falling asleep, munch on the nuts to get you through it. Almonds are packed with B and E vitamins, which help boost your immune system, and walnuts and pistachios help lower blood pressure.
  • Quinoa (Pronounced Keen Wah) is a super-food from South America. Looks like couscous and can be used as a substitute for rice. Is high in amino acids, which humans need to build protein.
  • Brown rice and brown rice pasta are well known as wonderful health foods. The macrobiotic diet, which is a well-known health diet, is mainly made up of eating brown rice. These are complex carbohydrates, which mean that they will give you a sustained amount of energy throughout the day.
  • Fruit in general is great for snacking in the office or at home. It is a stress free way of getting some healthy food inside you quickly. If you feel sluggish grab some fruit rather than chocolate or chips. The latter might taste good but will leave you feeling tired after the chemical and sugar rush. It doesn't mean you shouldn't have unhealthy foodstuffs but just be aware of how they make you feel.
  • Bananas: They not only give you a boost of energy when you most need it but they are also so quick and easy to eat. If you find yourself lagging in energy and need a boost especially in the afternoon then bananas are the foods to do it.
  • Oranges: A German study in Psychopharmacology found that vitamin C helps reduce stress and return blood pressure and cortisol to normal levels after a stressful situation. Vitamin C is also well-known for boosting your immune system.
  • Dried Apricots are rich in magnesium, which is a stress-buster and a natural muscle relaxant as well.
  • Avocados:The monounsaturated fats and potassium in avocados help lower blood pressure. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says that one of the best ways to lower blood pressure is to consume enough potassium (avocados have more than bananas).
  • Ginger Tea: Although not a food but beverage, ginger tea is a wonderful remedy for settling a stressed stomach or controlling a cold. How to make ginger tea: Boil an inch of peeled ginger root in 2/3 cups worth of boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Add brown sugar to taste.
  • Porridge: Again high in protein this is a wonderful way to start the day. Not only will it warm you up on an early morning but it will also give you a settled stomach with a sustained energy release. Great for kick starting the body in the morning and putting it in top form for relieving stress.
  • Hot water: Now this might seem like a strange stress relieving tool but it works. You prepare hot water by boiling water and then topping up your cup with some cold water. It is excellent for settling a stressed or queasy stomach, and for relaxing and cleansing the body. A simple magical remedy, which works despite its simplicity.
  • Vegetables: An important stress relief food group, vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals - vital for keeping a healthy and stress free body. Vegetables stir-fried with garlic, ginger, sesame oil and soy sauce are not only delicious but a really healthy way of eating vegetables.
  • Sweet potatoes can be particularly stress-reducing because they can satisfy the urge you get for carbohydrates and sweets when you are under a great deal of stress. They are packed full of beta-carotene and other vitamins, and the fiber helps your body to process the carbohydrates in a slow and steady manner.
  • Green Vegetables: Broccoli, kale, and other dark green vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins that help replenish our bodies in times of stress.
  • Salad: Salad can be a great way of giving the stomach a rest from rich food. Stomachs can really feel our stress so salads made up of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and grated carrots can help settle a bloated stomach and give you much-needed nutrients.
  • Spinach: A deficiency in magnesium can cause migraine headaches and a feeling of fatigue. One cup of spinach provides 40 percent of your daily needs for magnesium.

May you be well and stress free this holiday eating season.

Best of Cooking! Denise

next up...Ginger is so much more than a construction material

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