After a long Monday, I slumped into my car prepared to fight traffic on my way home. The day was long as usual, but I didn’t seem to get nearly enough done. My heavy workload will continue to wait for me until tomorrow. While I rush home, wishing for some stress relief, I walk through the door realizing my workload at home is now waiting for me. A day’s work seems never done. Grad school has taken its toll on my sanity, and just finding two socks that match is a task I do not have time for. The stress seems overwhelming at times, almost too much to bear.
We have all had one of “those” days. The kind of day where it seems everything goes wrong and gets backed up. When the stress seems to mount it is important that we provide our bodies with adequate nutrition to help cope. Vitamin B complex and antioxidants both have benefits for coping with stress.
There are eleven members of the B vitamin complex and they are essential nutrients for everything mind related. They are known to enhance your mood, quell anxiety, and lift depression. The B vitamin complex can also boost your energy, which is essential when dealing with unruly amounts of stress. When you are stressed your body burns up B vitamins faster than usual so it is important to eat vitamin B rich foods. Good sources of B vitamins include kombucha, whole grains, spinach, potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, tempeh, and beans. It is important to note that while B vitamins are important to your everyday management of stress and your energy levels, when taken in excess certain B vitamins can have negative effects. When taking a B vitamin supplement, make sure you consult the label and your physician to determine the appropriate complex for your needs. Most B vitamins are safe to take and cause very little side effects.
In addition to B vitamins, it is important to consume anti-oxidant rich foods, which help to repair the damage caused by physical, emotional, and environmental stress. Not only do antioxidants help repair damage from stress, but they also help prevent signs of aging; think of antioxidants as your own fountain of youth. Pecans, artichokes, strawberries, blueberries, and dark chocolate are all rich in antioxidants, along with carrots and red grapes (including red wine). So that indulgent piece of organic, fair trade dark chocolate coupled with your favorite glass of red wine before bed, in moderation, can actually help your body manage stress. When choosing from the fruits and vegetables listed above, it is best to go for organic varieties, as they are grown without harsh pesticides which can be counterproductive.
To incorporate antioxidants into your diet, try some of the delicious recipes from eatingwell.com:
4 thick slices whole-wheat bread
6 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups sliced or diced hulled strawberries
4 tablespoons mascarpone, (Italian cream cheese)
- Toast bread in a toaster.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over high heat. Add sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts and the mixture begins to bubble, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add strawberries and stir until juices begin to exude and the berries are heated through, 30 seconds to 1 minute more.
- Spread 1 tablespoon mascarpone on each piece of toast. Top with the warm berries.
Tips & Notes
- Make Ahead Tip: Prepare the sauce (Step 2), cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. To reheat, microwave on High for about 1 minute (defrost first, if necessary).
Per serving: 203 calories; 5 g fat ( 2 g sat , 1 g mono ); 9 mg cholesterol; 40 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 4 g fiber; 152 mg sodium; 240 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (108% daily value), Selenium (16% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 2 1/2
Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 1/2 fruit, 1 fat (sat)
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 1/2-inch slices eggplant, (about 1 small)
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
8 slices whole-grain country bread
8 thin slices fresh mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup sliced jarred roasted red peppers
4 thin slices red onion
- Preheat grill to medium-high.
- Combine mayonnaise and basil in a small bowl. Using 1 tablespoon oil, lightly brush both sides of eggplant and sprinkle each slice with garlic salt. With the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, brush one side of each slice of bread.
- Grill the eggplant for 6 minutes, turn with a spatula, top with cheese, and continue grilling until the cheese is melted and the eggplant is tender, about 4 minutes more. Toast the bread on the grill, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
- To assemble sandwiches: Spread basil mayonnaise on four slices of bread. Top with the cheesy eggplant, red peppers, onion and the remaining slices of bread. Cut in half and serve warm.
Per serving: 337 calories; 16 g fat ( 6 g sat , 6 g mono ); 22 mg cholesterol; 36 g carbohydrates; 12 g protein; 7 g fiber; 659 mg sodium; 353 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Folate (28% daily value), Calcium (25% dv), Selenium (23% dv), Iron (15% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 2
Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 high fat meat, 1 fat
For more delicious antioxidant rich recipes visit eatingwell.com
Now that the day has come to a close, I may go indulge in an antioxidant rich treat of a glass of red wine and dark chocolate. We all have the power to manage our stress with both external and internal alternatives. We can fight the heavy workload and long days with a little TLC and healthy diet.