7 Plant-Based Foods to Help Relieve Stress

Image Source: J E Theriot/Flickr

As healthy functioning individuals, we’re capable of accomplishing a lot. That’s great and all but, sometimes as healthy functioning individuals, we are also capable of taking on too many things at once. Repeat after me: there are not 25 hours in a day. Sadly, there are only 24 and at least more than six of those 24 should be spent sleeping! Between work, school, kids, friends, family, spouses, finances, staying fit, sleeping, etc. etc., it’s easy to become overwhelmed and stressed out. You know how the rest of this story goes– when you’re stressed, your cabinet/pantry/bag of chips just seems to call your name. With everything else around you in chaos, the temptation is hard to fight. Nothing like the stress-munchies to wreck havoc on an otherwise healthy diet. Now exactly why do you turn to the snacks when stress gets high?


Adrenaline, not only a hormone but also an important neurotransmitter in the body, is produced during times of immediate stress. Excess adrenaline results in a short burst of energy while also causing a drop in blood-sugar. This may be why after completing a stressful task you realize you’re starving. Nutritious foods are needed to replenish blood sugar levels back to normal. On the other hand, in a scenario with long-term stressors, other hormones are produced. When stressed, cortisol levels are elevated which messes with the checks and balances in the metabolism. Additionally, the “hunger hormones” liptin and ghrelin take over. When you’re chill, they’re chill and smoothly regulate body processes before and after meals. However, prolonged stress levels results in leptin-resistance. Leptin signals to you’re body that you’re full so if you become leptin resistant… that’s a problem. It’s an especially big problem when cravings for your favorite guilty treats hit full force.  Rather than trying to resist the craving, it may actually be helpful to include a small portion of the craved goodie with a healthy meal or you can try to distract yourself and the craving may pass (most usually only last 20 minutes– try timing yourself!).  To further help with cravings, make sure you have healthy food nearby so you are less likely to reach for the potato chips. Also, don’t wait too long between meals to eat again which could cause sugar highs and lows. Not to mention, keep hydrated and make sure the start the day with breakfast! Last but not least, how much sleep are you getting? The hormone ghrelin is linked with sleep. Little sleep has a direct impact on food cravings, specifically carbs. Did you know that getting less than six hours of sleep for as little as three nights in a row can increase carbohydrate consumption by 45%?! Make sure you’re sleeping enough to help prevent stress from ruining your mood, and your diet!

If you can relate to stress sometimes getting the best of you and your eating habits, click NEXT to learn about 5 foods that can help the situation.