Feeling Stressed?

By Charlyn Fargo

April 24, 2020 5 min read

Are you feeling stressed as you try to navigate this time of unknown and big changes to your normal routine?

You're not alone.

For many of us, that means turning to comfort foods. A friend recently joked she had gained not the freshman 15 but the COVID 19.

Are there foods than can reduce stress?

Our bodies automatically release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol when we feel anxious or stressed. Those hormones trigger the "fight or flight" response, which gets our bodies ready for action. Have you felt your heart beating more rapidly or your blood pressure rising over something seemingly small? Being in a chronic state of stress can cause long-term health problems, affect our sleep and even result in digestive issues, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

While there isn't definitive research linking stress management and certain nutrients, eating a healthy diet makes a difference. Several nutrients have been shown to help our brain function normally — foods high in antioxidants and B vitamins. (It turns out we are what we think — and eat. And thinking right can help reduce stress.)

To help with stress, concentrate on a healthy diet with extra fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein. In addition, make sure you're getting enough vitamin D. Studies have shown that increased intake of vitamin D can ease stress. Vitamin D is in fortified foods such as milk, fatty fish like salmon, soy products, some yogurt and some mushrooms (check the label of yogurt and fresh mushrooms to see if they have vitamin D).

The bottom line? Choose a balanced, healthy eating plan, and take time for physical activity. Even five minutes of exercise a day can be beneficial.

Q and A

Q: Is tea healthier for you than coffee?

A: Both can be healthy, and variety is a good thing. However, here are some differences to help you choose. Coffee can pack in twice as much caffeine as tea, depending on brewing time and preparation method. And that is not a bad thing, depending on your caffeine sensitivity. Caffeine may reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases and is a powerful stimulant, but it's also important to take it in moderation. Both tea and coffee are loaded with antioxidants, called polyphenols, which protect against heart disease and cancer. Both also boost energy levels — but in different ways. Coffee gives an instant kick, while tea gives a smoother, soothing energy boost. The bottom line? Both are good. Choose whichever one you prefer; just be careful of the sugar or creamer you might be adding.


Most of us have exhausted our favorite go-to recipes during this time of eating at home more. And while eating at home is a good thing — and usually healthier — you may be looking for something new to fix. Here's a new one to try from Cooking Light's "Five Star Recipes: The Best of 10 Years."


3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 pound turkey breast cutlets, cut into 1/2-inch -wide strips

Vegetable cooking spray

1 1/2 cups tightly packed curly endive, torn

1 1/2 cups tightly packed romaine lettuce, torn

1 cup fresh orange sections (about 2 oranges)

1/4 cup purple onion, chopped

1 (15-ounce) can seasoned black beans, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1/8 teaspoon salt

Dash of ground red pepper

1 small clove garlic, minced

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large plastic bag. Add turkey; seal bag, and shake to coat turkey. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add turkey and saute 4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Spoon into a large bowl; add endive and next 4 ingredients. Combine cilantro and remaining 6 ingredients in a bowl; stir with wire whisk. Add to turkey mixture, tossing gently to coat. Serve at room temperature. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 1/4 cups).

Per serving: 287 calories; 33.8 grams protein; 39.2 grams carbohydrate; 3.9 grams fat; 71 milligrams cholesterol; 9.3 grams fiber; 560 milligrams sodium.

Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee in Springfield, Illinois, and the media representative for the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For comments or questions, contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com

Photo credit: 6689062 at Pixabay

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