A diet for stress management is similar to a generally healthy diet, but there are a few key ingredients which you can add in to help you on your way to managing the effects of stress on your body and mind.

The important thing to avoid when you’re stressed are simple carbohydrates. It’s a just shame it’s just the thing we tend to reach for when we’re under pressure, tired or stressed out. Sugary foods or simple carbs like crisps, chips or white bread can make the effects of stress worse and make it harder for us to cope.

By ensuring you’re sticking to complex carbohydrates, with plenty of healthy fats and protein, you’ll be helping to keep your blood sugar levels more steady, leaving you feeling more balanced and on an even keel, even when things are hectic in your life. When our blood sugar is balanced we have more energy and we’re free from the sugar lows that have us reaching for unhealthy foods to perk us up.

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Vitamin C has been shown to help people to manage stress levels. Obvious sources are citrus fruit but broccoli and berries are also excellent sources. It’s thought that vitamin C may help us to regulate levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body. Overcooking of vegetables such as broccoli can kill the vitamin C, so be sure to just steam it lightly.

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Evidence suggests that omega 3 fatty acids can help the brain to manage the effects of stress, while they could also benefit the health of your heart. UK guidelines suggest we eat 1 portion of oily fish each week; alternatively you may choose to take a fish oil supplement if you’re not a fan of salmon, fresh tuna or sardines. Vegetarians can opt for flaxseed oils in supplement form, or try adding chia seeds or flaxseeds to smoothies, soups and desserts. I love this chia seed pudding, it’s amazingly filling and tasty.

Vitamin b6 is sometimes called the ‘anti-stress’ vitamin. Great sources include vegetables, avocados, fish, poultry and whole grains, so a meal of fish, vegetables, brown rice and avocado salad would be an ideal stress reducing meal.

As an anti stress snack, nuts and seeds are your best option. Walnuts, pumpkin seed and cashews are sources of good fats and magnesium. It’s thought that magnesium plays a role in helping our bodies to cope with stress.

We all know that caffeine, when drunk to excess, can stress body, increasing blood pressure and adrenaline and making us feel on edge. Aim the limit the amount of caffeine in your diet when you’re stressed; swap coffee for tea as it’s lower in caffeine, or just have one coffee in the morning if you can’t give it up completely. I love Rooibosh tea as it tastes similar to regular black tea but it doesn’t contain any caffeine.

Do you have any stress busting diet tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

For a free relaxation MP3 to help you to manage stress, see www.calmer-you.com. To find out about hypnotherapy sessions in London visit www.easywaytochange.co.uk

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