As lockdown continues, we’re all feeling the effect this is having on our mental health and wellbeing. Stress and anxiety have become commonplace amongst the population as we all venture into the unknown and one impact of this is our ability to maintain a healthy way of eating.
However, fear not as you’re not alone. Rob Hobson, Nutritionist for Love Fresh Cherries, explains how stress and anxiety can prevent us from eating well.
“During times of stress and anxiety it’s common for people’s eating habits to become erratic and that they are more inclined to reach for sweet treats and comfort foods which are both high in calories and low in essential nutrients,”. Says Love Fresh Cherries Nutritionist, Rob Hobson, “This can not only leave us short of essential nutrients required to support overall health and wellbeing but also lead to weight gain which can have a negative impact on self-esteem leaving us feeling more stressed and anxious”.
Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables can help reduce anxiety and stress. Studies* show that eating a healthier diet – one rich in wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables – can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve well-being almost immediately.
Tip 1: Make bite-size changes
“Taking a healthier approach to eating doesn’t need to be done all at once” Rob says, “Try focusing on eating three nutritious meals every day, or if you’re a constant grazer eating a higher number of smaller meals each day might work better for you.”
Tip 2: Keep healthy snacks in reach
Fresh fruits such as cherries offer a great option to nourish yourself between meals.
Low in calories, and counting as one of your five a day, fresh cherries can contribute to a healthy diet and reduce stress, as they are rich in antioxidant flavanol compounds, which can help to evoke feelings of calmness.
Cherries are a fantastic source of:
- Potassium which can help to maintain healthy blood pressure (stress increases blood pressure as does an unhealthy diet)
- Vitamin C which acts as an antioxidant in the body which helps to stop inflammation of which long term stress is a contributing factor
- Magnesium and B6 which are rapidly depleted during times of stress, eating fresh cherries is a great way to counteract this
Tip 3: Beat inflammation by upping your antioxidants
Rob says, “Research* shows that intense and constant stress are associated with increased inflammation in the body. Long-term stress in particular can over-activate the immune system, resulting in damage to healthy tissue and organs.”
Cherries are bursting with antioxidants which can help reduce pain and inflammation in the body. Incorporating fresh cherries into your diet can help battle the inflammation caused by stress, helping to take the pressure off your immune system and keep it working in tip top condition.
*Liu YZ, Wang YX, Jiang CL. Inflammation: The Common Pathway of Stress-Related Diseases. Front Hum Neurosci. 2017;11:316