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Story by Sune Connell

Lots of people with busy lives find it difficult to eat well. What’s a typical day? Arrive home at 8:30pm in transport chaos – nothing in the fridge except frozen pizza and leftover Chinese. The following morning you oversleep, run out the house, then run back as you left your mobile in the kitchen. Late for meeting, train is packed and you receive a text that your girlfriend’s pet rabbit was eaten by a fox. She is traumatised and you’re still trying to catch your breath. Good thing you skipped breakfast at home. There’s just enough time to grab a cappuccino and almond croissant. Sound familiar?

These continual bouts of stress make you more irritable and moody, deplete energy reserves and compromise your immune system. It can also contribute to weight gain and looking a bit worn beyond your years!

Here are three tips to eating healthy and combat stress. The key is variety, as homemade as possible and easy – a healthy diet should not add stress to your life!

1. Always eat breakfast – I know you have heard this message before, but try my tip. Cottage cheese is high in protein and the flavour is neutral, so you can add some seasonal berries and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds and a little honey. This will kick start your metabolism and keep you going for a while longer than a buttery, empty calorie laden muffin. No excuses – this breakfast takes nine seconds to prepare.

2. Replace your ‘white’ with ‘brown’ – this includes rice, pasta and bread. Whole grains are rich in vitamin B5. Known as the stress vitamin, it is essential for energy production. Add a few tablespoons of brown rice or lentils to your lunchbox salad, which of course already contains about eight other sexy ingredients (such as grated raw beetroot, avocado, honey, lemon and mustard marinated chicken breast and home grown sprouts). The more variety, and the more colours, the more essential nutrients to help your body and mind cope. If you still think it’s too uncool to bring your lunch from home, head down to one of those make your own salad joints and compile your own dream combination. Add protein, whole grains and good fats such as flax or olive oil to ensure a full tummy for hours.

3. Watch the caffeine: Too much caffeine drives the adrenals (the glands which produce stress hormones),and you will need more and more to give you the same lift, leaving you more tired and depleted afterwards. Opt for a rooibosch and vanilla tea or experiment with one of the many delightful herbal teas out there. Even better”¦ Do you have a mint plant getting out of hand in your garden? Pick a bunch of leaves and leave them on your desk. Not only does it smell great, but you can make fresh mint tea or add to your fizzy water for an interesting alternative.

So there you have it, stress-busting nutrition 101. Join me next time for more gourmet nutrition tips!

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<p>About the author: Sune Connell is a nutritionist and is our resident moderator on the <a href=“Food advice” forum on the site. Ask Sune your nutritional questions here.

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