Stress-Busters That Help You Lose Weight
When we're out of bandwidth, most of us go for the starchy, the sweet, the really-wrong-for-us. But eating the right foods can help you calm down and (hooray!) slim down too.
A Turkey Spa Salad
You know you should avoid sweetened, processed foods that will kick up your blood sugar. Instead, choose balanced meals that won’t disrupt your natural chemistry, says Roberta Anne Lee, MD, the vice chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center and the author of The SuperStress Solution
. She suggests a lunch of sliced turkey with avocado and lettuce. While it's a myth that the turkey will knock you out, this meal of protein and "good" fat will help you feel satisfied but not stuffed. Bonus: The potassium in one avocado (about 880 milligrams) can also help lower blood pressure.
Calories: about 337
Saturated fat: about 5 grams
Plugging along so diligently that you forget to refill your water bottle; tossing back an express dinner of pretzels and Chardonnay before jumping into bed; sweating off a bad day in a Bikram yoga class—all of these can dehydrate you to the point where you feel agitated and out of sorts. In addition to drinking water throughout the day, Lee suggests hydrating with snacks of grapefruit, watermelon, strawberries or cantaloupe, which are all more than 90 percent water.
Calories: 60 (1/2 grapefruit), 80 (2 cups diced watermelon), 100 (2 cups strawberries), 100 (1/2 cantaloupe)
Cashews, almonds and walnuts are excellent sources of magnesium, which Lee says can help us feel more relaxed. Studies show that most Americans don’t get enough magnesium, and Lee adds that it’s particularly deficient in people with anxiety. Nuts are also nutritional powerhouses with just enough fat to help you feel fuller longer than, say, potato or tortilla chips.
Calories in 1 ounce: 163 (almonds), 156 (cashews), 185 (walnuts)
Saturated fat: 1.1–2.2 grams
This power elixir has L-Theanine, an amino acid that may reduce anxiety as well as lower blood pressure, and ECGC, a plant compound that promotes fat burning. Lee says that while it also contains caffeine, most people find green tea calming rather than jittery-inducing. Keep in mind that iced green tea drinks can become diluted as the cubes melt, and even bottled varieties are often less concentrated than what you steep and sip hot at home.
Bran Cereal and Low-Fat Milk
The new breakfast (and snack) of champions? Fortified bran cereal is packed with stress-reducers magnesium and folic acid, and the calcium has been shown in studies to reduce mood swings and anxiety in women with PMS. What's more, the extra fiber will carry you until your next meal, making it a great afternoon snack.
Calories: about 200
Saturated fat: about 2 grams
Next: Anxiety-busters that don't require an Rx