The Best Foods To Help You Relax When You're Stressed Out, According To Science
by Caroline Burke

If you're absolutely starving and simultaneously stressed out, it can be a pretty dangerous combination. You might end up grabbing the closest snack you can find, and ultimately end up unsatisfied with something that will leave you hungry in an hour. On the other hand, you could choose from one of the foods that actually help you relax, therefore killing two birds with one stone.

Each food you eat has a totally different makeup of chemicals, nutrients, hormones, and more. So it follows that some foods might contribute to calming you down, and others might make you feel more stressed out. For example, if you scarf down a donut, you'll reap the benefits of that classic sugar high, but you'll probably feel the sabotage and stress of a brutal sugar crash not too long after you're done eating.

Instead of just grabbing the closest bag of chips, consider what you can eat that might help you chill out and take a breather instead. Food is a powerful tool for relaxation, if you choose your meal wisely.

Rest assured, there's a huge variety of food options to help you relax in a healthy way. When you're feeling so stressed you can barely think, consider one of these eight food options to help you calm down.

A Spoonful Of Honey For A Calming Dose Of Tryptophan

Honey contains high levels of tryptophan, which is a compound that reduces anxiety and relaxes your nerves. Drizzle some honey over your morning yogurt, add a dab to a bowl of fruit, or slather it onto toast, and you'll be good to go.

A Warm Glass Of Milk Will Soothe Your Stress

Milk is another big carrier of tryptophan, and it also contains calcium, which can induce calmness, as well.

If you're not a big fan of drinking your milk warmed up, you can always pour some over a bowl of cereal for a small, pre-bedtime snack.

There's No Problem A Mug Of Green Tea Can't Solve

Green tea is loaded with L-theanine, which is a chemical that's been shown to relieve stress and encourage a sense of calm. Drinking a cup of decaffeinated green tea before bed is an excellent way to decompress after a long, stressful day.

Chocolate, Because Hell Yes

Great news: Chocolate is officially a form of self-care, so rock on with those decadent, tasty bars. Dark chocolate can actually regulate your cortisol levels, which are in charge of determining how stressed you feel, and this treat can even help stabilize your metabolism, too.

Coconut Can Actually Even Out Your Blood Pressure

A 2010 study from Columbia University revealed that people who inhaled a whiff of coconut saw a drop in their blood pressure, and they experienced less stress while completing a challenging task.

Why not add some coconut flakes to your morning smoothie, or even bake something coconut-filled? It's good for your health, after all.

Bananas Will Relax Your Muscles From Head To Toe

Bananas contain two muscle relaxants: potassium and magnesium — which is also why they're a popular post-workout food for athletes. This fruit also contains tryptophan, which is clearly the go-to relaxing chemical to look for in your food, guys.

Brown Rice Floods Your Body With Calming Hormones

According to the online platform Good Relaxation, brown rice is a complex carb that helps to release insulin in the body, a sleep-inducing amino acid that can relax your brain and help produce more relaxing hormones like serotonin (which makes you feel happy) and melatonin (which helps you fall asleep).

The great news is that brown rice is an easy add-on to any meal: Try a veggie stir-fry recipe to get more nutrients in per bite.

Your Parents Were Onto Something When They Told You To Eat Your Veggies

Green, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale are filled with folate, which is a vitamin that helps your body produce dopamine, a chemical in your brain that makes you feel good.

In fact, these green veggies can contribute to your mental health so much that they may actually help decrease your risk of depression. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders showed that people who followed a high-folate diet were less likely to show depressive symptoms.

Make it a point to eat a salad for one of your meals each day, or you can even sneak these greens into your morning smoothie.