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Healthy Eating to Decrease Stress

Topic Overview

You can handle stress better when you are as healthy as possible, so eating nutritiously is a good defense against stress. The tips below focus on using nutrition to reduce the symptoms of stress. For more information about eating right, see the topic Healthy Eating.

  • Avoid or limit caffeine. Coffee, tea, some sodas, and chocolate contain caffeine. Caffeine causes you to feel "wound up," which can make stressful situations seem more intense. If you drink a lot of caffeine, reduce the amount gradually. Stopping use of caffeine suddenly can cause headaches and make it hard to concentrate.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. If you are feeling very stressed, you might be turning to alcohol for relief more often than you realize. If you drink, limit yourself to 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
  • Make mealtimes calm and relaxed. Try not to skip meals or eat on the run. Skipping meals can make stress-related symptoms worse. You may get a headache or a tight, tense feeling in your stomach. Eating on the run can cause indigestion. Use mealtime to relax, enjoy the flavor of your meal, and reflect on your day.
  • Avoid eating to relieve stress. Some people turn to food to comfort themselves when they are under stress. This can lead to overeating and guilt. If this is a problem for you, try to replace eating with other actions that relieve stress, such as taking a walk, playing with a pet, or taking a bath.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Steven Locke, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised May 3, 2013

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