We live in uncertain times which can often cause us to have stress and health issues—even if it is underlying stress and we hardly notice it. When stress is gone unchecked, stress symptoms will likely affect your health mood and even your appetite. 

How do I know if I may have underlying stress?

Stress symptoms can affect your thoughts, emotions, and weight. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can help you manage them. 

Underlying stress may cause us to:
• Experience headaches
• Feel muscle tension
• Have nights with insomnia causing fatigue
• Unable to focus (A.K.A brain fog)
• Lack of motivation
• Have decreased productivity at work
• Make you feel overwhelmed
• Upset your stomach
• Misuse drug or alcohol

Underlying stress can also cause us to have increased fear and worry as well as be more frustrated and angry.

Stress can also play a role in your appetite.

Our brains send cues to our bodies when we’re feeling stressed. When we are experiencing stress, your body sends out cortisol, known as the stress hormone. Cortisol can make you crave sugary, salty and fatty foods, because your brain thinks it needs fuel to fight whatever threat is causing the stress. For some, stress can cause people to ignore their hunger cues and refrain from eating for long stretches while for others it may turn them into emotional eaters who mindlessly munch all day long. Stress doesn’t only influence our eating habits, it can affect your metabolism which can cause weight gains.

Here are 10 foods known to help regulate your moods, control your appetite and lower your stress levels. Even if you don’t feel you are under a great deal of stress, it’s important to include these in your diet in order to keep your stress levels at bay.

1. Cacao

Cacao contains phenylethylamine that promotes a happy, light feeling. It also helps lessen stress and depression. Cacaos also contains a neurotransmitter called anandamide that alters our dopamine levels and triggers a sense of peace and relaxation.

2. Anchovies

Fatty fishes are known to be an excellent provider of Omega-3 fatty acids, which is an important fat for our brain that reduces stress, anxiety, as well as depression. 

3. Nuts and Seeds

Anything under the category of nuts and seeds is rich in tryptophan which helps produce serotonin. Studies have shown that eating a handful of nuts a day might lower the risk of cancer, heart, and respiratory diseases. It is also one of the known sources of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.

4. Spinach

Spinach is rich in folate, which is a vitamin B that helps improve your mood.  Since folate helps produce dopamine which is also known as the “feel-good” chemical.  Spinach also offers vitamins and minerals that can help the gut create neurotransmitters that can help support a healthy mood.

5. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great mind-booster since they are rich in vitamin C which also helps produce dopamine and serotonin that enhances our mood. 

6. Green Tea

We all know that drinking tea makes us feel calm and peaceful, and that’s because green tea contains L-theanine that increases the production of dopamine.

7. Rosemary

Rosemary serves as an herb to add flavor to different types of dishes, but it is also rich in carnosic acid which is beneficial to our memory and mood. It reduces oxidative stress in our brain which supports the reduction of inflammatory cytokines. These cytokines usually lead to mood changes and disorders and by reducing them, you’re brain will stay healthy and happy.

8. Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and in folate like spinach, which makes them a natural mood stabilizer.

9. Tofu

Tofu and other soy-based products are rich in tryptophan. Tofu is often used as a substitute for protein foods such as meats which makes it a good choice for vegetarians, there are also some types of tofu that can provide calcium boost.

10. Cheese

Cheese is a great source of tryptophan which produces niacin that is essential in producing a neurotransmitter called serotonin that acts as a mood stabilizer. If you choose to consume dairy, make sure you keep it in moderation.