There are some foods that people know are not the healthiest. But here are the 5 worst foods you simply must avoid, especially when stressed.
Did you know that Malaysian & Americans are the most stressed-out people in the world, with 55% saying they feel high stress? Just because you live halfway across the world doesn’t necessarily mean you’re immune to anxiety either!
If you’re pulling out your hair from stress, then you might be trying to subdue that anxiety by resorting to some comfort foods. But wouldn’t you know it; these tasty morsels can actually betray you!
So be kind to yourself and put the right foods into your body. Here are 5 of the worst foods you should avoid when your anxiety levels are high.
1. Ultra-Processed Foods
Ultra-processed foods (or UPFs) are probably our favorite foods. They’re things like candy, chips, snack cakes, and frozen pizzas; yes, all the tasty tasty foods you want to reach for when you’re feeling like the sky’s falling!
But these heavenly snacks come with an awful price. As you might’ve guessed already, these things are highly processed to give you the end product of irresistible foods. This means they’re packed with not just sugar, bad fats, and tons of sodium, but there are also plenty of dyes, preservatives, and artificial flavors thrown in as well.
What all of these things mean is bad news for your body. Studies have shown that they might have something to do with higher inflammatory biomarkers called C-reactive protein (CPR). And those with higher CPR levels have an increased chance of developing depression.
Your stomach’s already in knots from anxiety. Do you really need depression piled on top of that? Probably not.
So while it’s easy and convenient to reach for those snack cakes or chips, perhaps it’s a better idea to put them away when you’re stressed out.
2. Ice Cream
In movies, when someone goes through a breakup, they go straight for the freezer, grab a tub of ice cream, park themselves in front of the TV, and eat scoop after scoop of the frozen stuff while bawling their eyes out.
You might think of doing the same if you’ve got lots of stress, and it might feel good in the moment, but you’ll soon be regretting it. It’s estimated that anywhere between 70-100% of East Asians are lactose intolerant, so there’s a very good chance that eating ice cream will send you running to the toilet.
And that’s not the only problem ice cream will cause you either! It’s an unhealthy food because it’s chockful of calories and sugar.
Don’t think that low-calorie ice creams are a safe bet either. While you won’t be shoving a bunch of calories into your body, you’ll still likely suffer from effects after.
These ice creams use sugar alcohols to ensure they still taste good, but these will put your stomach in even more knots. And this can lead to even more anxiety!
Sugar’s not exactly a food, but think of anything that’s sweet, and it’s pretty much bad food, period. And when it comes to stress, sugar is probably the worst food to have.
When you’re freaking out about something, your body will release more cortisol, which is also known as the “stress hormone”. This hormone is also responsible for managing our blood sugar levels.
So what happens when you gorge yourself on a bunch of candy? Your blood sugar level rises, which means your body compensates by pumping out more cortisol.
While some cortisol is good for helping with stress, too much of it can cause a bunch of issues. Some of these include insomnia, decreased immunity, and cravings for other food to avoid. This doesn’t make for a fun time, does it?
Yes, we know that you don’t technically “eat” alcohol, but you’re still putting it in your body, so we think it counts!
It’s super-easy to mix yourself a cocktail or pour yourself a glass of wine (or beer) when the thoughts in your brain are racing a million miles per hour. And at first, it might feel like it’s a great cure; your thoughts slow down, after all.
But the truth is, alcohol can increase your stress on a long-term basis! If you become dependent on alcohol as a stress reliever, future alcohol withdrawals can make your mental health a lot worse.
So having a glass of wine when you’re stressed out every once in a while won’t do too much damage. But don’t make it a habit and avoid doing it if you can!
Another thing you need to stay away from when stressed out is caffeine. This wondrous compound comes in both liquid and food forms, and we advise that you stay away from both!
When you’re anxious, you probably already feel wired up and jittery. When you add caffeine to that equation, then these “symptoms” can be amplified! This is because caffeine helps dopamine to flood your body, which can make you jittery and also make your stomach problems worse.
Caffeine is a stimulant, so you need to regulate your intake, especially if you have panic attacks. Try to keep it to just 2 cups a day if you need it to feel alert and awake.
Avoid Eating the Worst Foods When You're Stressed Out
The next time you’re worried about something and want to stress eat, cross off the worst foods from your list. Instead, opt for something that’s healthier, like most seafood, oats, bananas, and leafy greens.
We know they’re definitely not as delicious or satisfying as a bag of potato chips, but at least they won’t contribute to worse mental health! So it’s worth a small sacrifice in taste to look after yourself.
Now that you’ve read about the foods to avoid when stressed, why not shift the focus to healthy eating? Find out more about a plant-based diet by reading our article on it!