What to eat when you’re feeling stressed, tired, down, pre-menstrual and in need of an energy hit? It’s easy to reach for the wrong thing when our resources are depleted. And let’s be honest, we’ve all been there; exhausted from burning the candle at both ends, feeling the stress and pressure of modern life, feel slightly ‘flat’ due to lack of energy or so pre-menstrual that you want to eat everything and anything. No matter how many times we say that we are not going to snack mindlessly, the cookie jar starts to look ever more tempting.

Yet, there is a solution – and a healthier food to reach for other than cookies, crisps or vending machine eats that will pick you up, lift your mood and give you that energy boost you are craving! Read on for tips and advice from nutritionist Angelique Panagos on what to eat when you’re feeling stressed, tired, down, pre-menstrual, and in need of an energy hit…

What to Eat When You’re Feeling Stressed

Modern life makes it all too easy to whip around in constant stress mode! The message of stress is extremely powerful and the stress hormones’ (adrenaline and cortisol) job takes priority and overrides any other functions and changes the way our body works. That is how stress is supposed to work – it’s a positive action! It’s short lived and it helps get us out of danger’s way. However, the long-terms effects of modern life’s constant stress are deeply negative. This type of stress affects digestion, hormone secretion and self-repair, leaving you with nutrient deficiencies at a time when you should be doubling those nutrients! Stress also affects your decision-making, resulting in poor food choices and, you guessed it, increased stimulants and less rest.

Lifestyle as well as diet is extremely important in these situations. Start by soothing your mind, first of all take a deep breath and practice diaphragmatic breathing. Ask yourself, do you really need to eat, or are you just trying to deal with stress?

If you are hungry, then ensure that you eat some protein with each meal and snack, this can provide additional energy support. Eat fruit with some nuts, brown rice with fish or chicken, oatcakes/crudités with houmous. Some foods contain protein and carbohydrate and are therefore beneficial anti-stress foods e.g. nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. Ensure you have an adequate intake of Vitamin C by eating plenty of fruit and vegetables. Make sure you’re eating a rainbow of colours!

What to Eat When You’re Tired

Simply put, eating a well-balanced diet, getting adequate sleep every night and exercising regularly can provide you with maximum energy levels. However, sometimes life gets in the way and all you seem to be doing is rushing to make breakfast, get to the office, pick the children up from school and meet deadlines – all before mid-afternoon. No wonder you are exhausted! Many of us grab a soft drink, coffee, biscuits or a chocolate bar for a quick boost of energy. After all, life is busy. However, those choices are unfortunately a one way ticket to feeling even more tired.

Instead, start by balancing your blood sugar levels . Try to focus on nourishing, energising foods that are simple to prepare. In particular, enjoy whole grains and complex carbs (sweet potatoes, oats) for a hit of lasting energy and Vitamin-B rich foods, which help to convert food into cellular energy: eggs, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, watercress, cabbage, peas, beans, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are all great sources of Vitamin B. Get plenty of essential fatty acids. These aid our energy production, improve our metabolism, and increase the rate at which oxygen is used so salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, herring, hemp seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, omega 3 enriched eggs and flax seeds. For the ultimate energy-boosting meal add in some chromium-rich foods such as rye bread, apples or eggs.

What to Eat When You’re Feeling Down

When you’re struggling, it can be easy to reach for a little pick-me-up – a bag of sweets, a chocolate bar, or perhaps some salty crisps or chips. Yet, these will only offer a quick fix, and will ultimately play havoc with your hormones and emotions.

On the flipside, if we reach for the right foods, I promise you will feel better both physically and emotionally! First up, try Tryptophan-rich foods (cottage cheese, chicken, turkey, oats, brown rice, or even a banana), which help to produce happy chemicals in the body. Also part of your food prescription is to enjoy nuts (especially brazils, pecans and cashews), dark green leafy vegetables or even apricots, which contain magnesium to help relax and ease low mood. Long-term, you should also consider adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet (think oily fish), which may help to improve the mood.

What to Eat When You’re Feeling Pre-Menstrual

There are over 150 symptoms associated with PMS and it’s one of the most common forms of hormonal imbalance for women of reproductive age. I can totally relate to the PMS attack, I struggled with this throughout my 20’s and see so many ladies battling it every month! When you hit that time of the month, it can be tempting to squirrel away in the duvet with mammoth bars of chocolate. However, there are ways you can fight PMS and sugar is only adding to the problem, something I discuss at length in my book The Balance Plan.

Eating a rainbow of vegetables full of fibre, magnesium, vitamin K and water can help to beat the bloat and reduce cramps. Meanwhile avocadoes, chia seeds, nuts and seeds or oily fish like salmon contain good fats to brighten your mood, reduce inflammation and breast pain. Eating Vitamin B rich foods like a bowl of oats with a tablespoon of ground flax seeds can help with oestrogen metabolism which helps reduce water retention, mood swings and tender breasts. Finally, if you are really craving chocolate, go for it! But the caveat is it needs to be good quality dark chocolate, ideally 75% and above!

There you have it, easy tips to start implementing today. I go into each of these in more detail in my book, The Balance Plan. For more individual support, or if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the conflicting information out there, please get in touch or pop in to see me in my clinic – I’d love to hear from you and welcome you to my tribe! More information on Angelique can be found on her website: https://angeliquepanagos.com/