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Take a Bite Out of Stress

Take a Bite Out of Stress

Stress is our body’s way of reacting to a change. Stress can be a positive thing, such as keeping us alert while facing a danger. But without relief, stress can build until we can develop negative symptoms such as headaches, elevated blood pressure, GI troubles, and problems sleeping as well as worsen symptoms of diseases that are already troubling us. Dr. Shillingford, a South Florida surgeon specializing in advanced laparoscopic and obesity surgery, would like to share ten foods to help you de-stress while also promoting healthy food choices. Dr. Shillingford and his staff in his Boca Raton office, enjoy helping our bariatric surgery patients achieve success in other parts of their lives in addition to weight loss, such as improving blood pressure and blood sugar control, and helping improve overall satisfaction with life. When you’re feeling the effects of stress in your life, take a bite out of it with one or more of these foods:

  • Dark Chocolate: Studies show that dark chocolate may help reduce the stress hormones cortisol and catecholamines. Choose dark chocolate with the highest percentage of cocoa to get more health promoting antioxidants. Dark chocolate may also help improve insulin sensitivity, reduce blood pressure, and improve your mood.
  • Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are not only sweet and delicious, but contain high levels of vitamin C. Vitamin C has been shown to be beneficial to people whose immune systems have been weakened due to stress. Here in South Florida we are lucky to be able to find fresh locally grown berries readily available. Blueberries and strawberries can easily be added to your post bariatric surgery diet in the form of smoothies.
  • Asparagus: This very versatile green vegetable is high in folic acid, which is necessary for our bodies to make the mood regulating neurotransmitter serotonin. Asparagus has long been considered a delicacy, but you don’t have to consider it a treat. You can be easily combine with a stir fry, bake as a side dish for any protein, chop it and toss it into a crustless quiche, or blanch it and use as a finger food with your favorite dip.
  • Bananas: Not only are they inexpensive and easily transportable, but bananas also pack a good dose of tryptophan. The amino acid tryptophan is broken down in the body and used to manufacture both serotonin (a mood regulating neurotransmitter) and melatonin (a sleep regulating neurotransmitter). Bananas are also a great source of potassium, a mineral known for keeping our blood pressure low. They can also easily be mashed to a pureed consistency during your post weight loss surgery diet.
  • Nuts: Mixed nuts are high in fiber and healthy fats, and also full of vitamins and minerals that are drained during periods of stress. Almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts are a good source of zinc, a key nutrient for maintaining a balanced mood. Walnuts can help replenish B vitamins and cashews are an excellent source of tryptophan, a serotonin building block. The crunch and slightly salty taste of nuts can help satisfy cravings without the guilt of reaching for chips.
  • Spinach: Although spinach and leafy greens are not usually considered a comfort food, they can have a comforting effect on the body. One cup of spinach provides almost half your daily needs of magnesium, which helps regulate cortisol levels and promote a general sense of well-being. Spinach can easily be incorporated into many meals, such as eggs and quiche, soups, salads, and even replace the lettuce on your sandwich with this nutrient dense leaf.
  • Soup: A simmering pot of soup can fill your home with wonderful aromas. When you smell something you like, you tend to breathe deeper, your blood pressure lowers, and your heart rate slows, which may help you relax. Pack your soup with health promoting vegetables, some whole grains, and lean meat, and you’ve got yourself a complete meal. Make enough for leftovers, and you’ve got another stress reliever without much additional effort.
  • Whole grains: Whether it’s oatmeal, quinoa, or homemade whole wheat bread, carbohydrates set off a series of biochemical events that produce our feel good neurotransmitter, serotonin. Whole grain carbohydrates are also a major source of energy for the body, packed with B complex vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
  • Tea: A warm, comforting mug of tea can do more than just make us breathe deeper to stimulate relaxation. Black tea can help reduce post-stress cortisol levels in the body.
  • Avocados: These low sugar fruits are packed with stress relieving nutrients. Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats, which can help control blood sugar levels and stave off hunger. They are also rich in folate, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, potassium, vitamin K, and tryptophan which may all contribute to protecting your body from stress. Try them in salads, sandwiches, smoothies, or as a dip.