Relax! Naini Setalvad is here to help you unwind with her guidance on feel-good foods
No amount of scrolling through your social media feed or gorging on your favourite foods can keep those racing thoughts at bay. With an ever-demanding job, social commitments, and the need to keep up with the online world, one can get overwhelmed. And I don’t blame you. In the days when you should be revelling in your youth, you sit slumped with the burden of the world on your shoulders. This stress has a great impact on your life.
This is how stress affects you:
Prevents you from getting adequate sleep
Makes you hungry all the time and binge-eat
Results in loss of appetite and signs of eating disorders appear
Leaves you with a lack of energy and enthusiasm in daily tasks
Makes you irritable, moody, and angry easily
Gives you an upset stomach, constipation, headache, and muscle pain
But don’t be disheartened. I have the solution to your worries. The saying “You are what you eat” may sound cliched to you, but truer words haven’t been spoken. The food that we eat can worsen the stress or help calm you down. So, sit back and read on as to how, in this choppy sea of stress, the following stress-busting foods, beverages, and lifestyle tips can be your anchor.
Water it down: Often ignored, this is the easiest way to get rid of stress. Poor digestion, high body temperature, toxins, and fatigue lead to stress. Hydrating yourself is the solution to getting rid of all of these woes.
Beat the blues with bananas: The wholesome banana can instantly uplift you with its serotonin-inducing ability. Serotonin is a feel-good hormone that is usually at its peak in the first half of the day, ensuring that your mind is calm and that your smile is always on!
Striking gold with grains: Forget all those fad diets that ask you to do away with carbs. Your three main meals—breakfast, lunch, and dinner—should include at least one whole grain, be it roti, rice, idli, bread, or millets. We have an endless assortment. Indulge in these Vitamin B-rich energising foods, but do not opt for the overly processed kind.
Stick with the starches: Starchy foods like potato or yams, when eaten in moderation, can soothe your soul. The Vitamin B6-rich potato acts like a warm blanket on a gloomy day. Combine these with vegetables in your meals.
Fats that make you feel fab: There is no need to demonise all fats anymore. Fats are required for the smooth working of our brains, and the lack of them can impact your mood. Good fats are present in cold-pressed coconut oil and ghee. Seeds and nuts that are abundant in healthy fats are also packed with magnesium and selenium that elevate your mood.
Tea tattle: There is nothing more calming after a busy day than a piping hot cup of herbal tea. Sit back and unwind with naturally de-stressing tulsi tea. If you are in need of a pick-me-up, sip on some green tea or ginger tea, which are anti-inflammatory and can put your body at ease.
Probiotic power: It is interesting to note that there is a direct connection between the mind and the gut. An agitated gut will lead to an unsettled mind. Make sure you get your daily dose of gut-soothing probiotics in the form of fermented foods like yoghurt, buttermilk, dhoklas, idlis, dosas, and kanji to name a few.
Maximise meal potential: Now that we have covered what to eat, let’s touch upon how to eat. Eating smaller meals every two hours not only ensures you have a constant supply of energy throughout the day but avoids hunger pangs, binge-eating, and the infamous huangry feeling we are all too familiar with. It is an absolute no-no to skip breakfast. An empty stomach will slow you down for the rest of the day and increase your stress even further.
Fresh is flawless: Eating fresh, locally-sourced produce is the only way to go. Seasonal fruits and vegetables have a lower chance of having pesticides and toxins, and also naturally contain vitamins like A, C, and E that detox the body and, consequentially, the mind.
Recharged body, recharged mind: Food definitely safeguards us from a host of ailments, but who doesn’t wish for added security? Exercise and healthy eating go hand-in-hand. Any outdoor activity will refresh and recharge you. Limiting screen time also plays a vital role in reducing stress.
I’m a firm believer that you can’t always control your circumstances but you can control what you eat. Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish your mind. Nature has provided us with enough bounty to beat the blues and live stress-free!
Savoury Dosa Waffle
1 cup idli dosa batter
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tomato, finely diced
2 tbsp basil leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp chilli
1 tsp mixed dried herbs
Salt to taste
1. Mix all the ingredients to make a lump-free batter.
2. Heat the waffle maker. Place the batter in the maker and cook.
3. Remove once the waffle is crisp.
4. Serve with tomato salsa or marinara sauce.
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