Top 5 Foods That are Stressing You Out
By: Carrie Walco-Bowman
One of the easiest ways to help manage stress is to avoid foods and drinks that can cause stress. The first step is to become educated about the types of foods that can trigger anxiety and stress. The next step is to avoid these stress triggers by being intentional about the foods we eat and making healthy meal plans to avoid them.
The top foods responsible for causing higher stress levels include added sugars, artificial sweeteners, processed carbohydrates, alcohol, and caffeine.
Added sugars are one of the first food ingredients to eliminate from your diet to reduce stress. They make blood sugar levels spike and crash, causing moods to decline and anxiety levels to rise, increasing stress. When blood sugars rise, our bodies release cortisol to balance sugar levels. Increased cortisol can cause sleeping issues, lowered immunity, headaches, and unhealthy food cravings. Common sources of added sugars to avoid are maltose or sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, cane sugar, corn sweetener, raw sugar, syrup, honey, or fruit juice concentrates.
Even though artificial sweeteners do not contain sugar, they still increase blood sugar levels by releasing insulin, raising blood glucose levels. Studies have shown they may also change the composition of intestinal bacteria, causing stress to your digestive system. The most common artificial sweeteners to avoid are saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame.
One of the best-tasting alternatives to artificial sweeteners is allulose, a natural sweetener. It is low in calories, has a great mouthfeel, tastes like cane sugar, and is non-glycemic (meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar). In fact, studies show it can even help lower postprandial (after a meal) blood sugar levels. It is found naturally in figs, raisins, maple syrup, and brown sugar. Try it out in The Mighty Bite and Berg Bites cookies and snacks.
Refined or processed carbohydrates (like those found in white flour, white bread, white rice, sodas, pasta, cereals, and pastries) have been stripped of most of their nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Bad carbs are the bulk of what is leftover. They are “bad” because they are digested by the body too fast, leading to blood sugar spikes and more crashes. Most refined carbs also contain high levels of sodium. Too much sodium can cause your body to retain more fluid, causing your heart to work harder. This can increase blood pressure, adding another stress trigger.
Make better carbohydrate choices by selecting healthy, complex carbohydrates that are slowly digested and contain the nutrients your body needs to regulate and control stress. MightyMeals makes this easy with their large variety of fresh, no-prep healthy meals that contain complex carbs, such as brown rice, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and beans.
Most of us know that alcohol has a dehydrating effect if we drink more than one or two drinks. But did you know that drinking too much alcohol also releases stress-inducing hormones, increases blood pressure, and increases heart rate? Many alcoholic beverages also contain too much sugar, which adds even more stress. When combined, the high amount of stress triggers in alcohol make it one of the top things to avoid to reduce stress.
Caffeine is a stimulant and can be great in moderate amounts to help activate our mind, mood, and body. However, like all stimulants, when we take too much there are bad side effects, such as anxiety and stress. Stimulants turn our fight or flight response to the “on” position. If our bodies remain “on” for too long they become depleted of nutrients and energy, causing a stress response. Caffeine can also raise blood pressure and heart rate.
Changing your meal plan to a healthier one and eliminating foods that cause stress can take a little time and effort. So, be patient, make a plan, and don’t stress about it. Start out by looking out for these five foods that can cause stress.
MightyMeals was founded on creating healthy meals from fresh, local, nutrient-dense ingredients. This includes limiting ingredients that have little nutritional value and foods that can cause stress and anxiety. In fact, you’ll find that almost all of our meals contain zero added sugars! You’ll also find that eliminating meal prep reduces a lot of stress too!