Nearing half-term and having negotiated challenges that a year ago teachers would not have even dreamt of, your mind and body may be reaching burnout. Sustaining stress over a period of time wreaks havoc on the body due the body’s inability to absorb nutrients, leaving the person irritable, tired, emotional with eating and sleep disturbances. Healthy eating to combat burnout helps because certain foods contain chemicals which boost mood and have a stabilising effect on the body. Here is a list of food that contribute to the body’s ability to make essential hormones and enzymes that reduce the physical effects of stress and promote a stable mood and a good night’s sleep.
Mood boosting foods that reduce anxiety helping to release calming, stabilising hormones:
- dark chocolate (1.4oz, daily, 235 calories) proven to reduce the production of cortisol, the stress hormone and is full of antioxidants
- any carbohydrate produces serotonin which is important to stabilise mood (people on low carb diets have been shown to have increased stress, mood and sleep disturbances)
- oily fish contains omega-3 oils, fundamental for a stable mood and associated with serotonin production but also contains vitamin D which is increasingly being seen as vital for stable mental health
- Brazil nuts reduce inflammation associated with anxiety through the production of selenium
- Eggs contain tryptophan which helps to produce serotonin helping to reduce anxiety and improve sleep and irritability.
Gut healthy foods proven to be necessary for reducing effects of stress on the body:
- live yoghurt
- root vegetables and onions/leeks.
Sleep helping foods that when eaten before bed, help calming hormones to be released and promote sleepiness:
- almonds: a source of melatonin, the sleep hormone
- turkey: contains tryptophan which makes melatonin and although more research needed is thought to make you sleepy
- chamomile tea which contains apigenin, which reduces insomnia and depression, induces sleepiness
- kiwi: produces serotonin needed to promote sleep and has antioxidants (one of the best things to eat for sleep)
- a glass of milk: easily prepared and packed with tryptophan so therefore promotes sleep.
Read our follow-up article on Monday when we list menu ideas to incorporate foods containing the best nutrients to boost mental health, that are easily available, quick to prepare and have minimal washing up afterwards.