Are There Foods That Make Us Feel Worse When We Are Under Stress?

Many believe that stress is caused by overwork, difficult situations, pressure. However, these are not the only reasons. In fact, a poor diet can make stress worse, especially some specific foods.

It is clear that lifestyle habits are decisive when it comes to modulating moods, but also what we eat. All factors must be taken care of to avoid situations that affect well-being.

Tell me what you eat and I will tell you the stress level you have

“We are what we eat”. Nothing more accurate than this phrase. The food we eat every day can determine weight, illness, energy, and health. For this reason, the body does not react the same to a fruit as to a chocolate cake.

This is because the body has to go through extra process or work to process certain ingredients. Therefore, you feel lighter in the first case, and “heavier” in the second.

In relation to stress, there is a kind of “vicious circle” with food. This means that if you eat badly and add to that daily nerves and pressures, your stress will be through the roof. But, in addition to feeling bad, the consequence is that we eat incorrectly. The body will “ask” you for more fatty foods, sugar, etc. And that poor diet will help increase stress.

In periods of extreme stress, people tend to eat more (the same happens with anxiety and in many cases with depression). On the contrary, other people do not want to eat a bite and just want to sleep.

This is explained in an article published in 2006 in the journal Physiology & Behavior. The article talks about two experiments: the first experimentally shows that stress causes changes in food choices. Apparently, when people are affected by stress, they tend to choose less healthy low-fat foods, and tend to opt more for less healthy and high-fat foods.

The second experiment, a survey study, showed that more women than men report increased food consumption when stressed. A much higher percentage of those who report increasing their food intake when stressed (71%) are dieters. The foods that these people tend to overeat when stressed are foods that they typically avoid for weight loss or health reasons.


A good diet is essential so that the body is always healthy, as well as the brain. The diet also influences, of course. If your diet is made up of fruits and vegetables, your levels of aggression, nerves, anxiety and stress are likely to decrease. On the contrary, if it is based on fast food, soft drinks, coffee and snacks, they could increase them.

Cortisol is known as “the stress hormone. It can also cause imbalances in insulin, appetite, and fat fixation. Lack of sleep, work or personal problems and food “trigger” it. Therefore, special attention must be paid to these factors.

Foods that cause stress

According to a study by the Yale University School of Medicine, in the United States, you should control the consumption of the following foods if you want to remove stress from your life (or at least reduce their levels):


When you are in the office full of work, you usually go to the coffee machine to “recharge batteries.” However, this action can be counterproductive to your health. Caffeine is addictive and while it stimulates and improves mental alertness and performance in the short term, it also increases pressure and can cause tremors and palpitations.

In turn, caffeine increases anxiety and leads to sleep problems. In addition to coffee, it is found in tea, soft drinks (especially Cola) and chocolate.


Many times the reason for stress is linked to a problem in digesting food. This occurs when the stomach does not have the ability to properly process what is ingested. If anxiety is causing you digestive complications such as gastritis, you need to avoid overly spicy, seasoned, or spicy foods (for example, tomato sauce).

Anyway, keep in mind that spicy, under normal conditions, helps to lose weight. This is evidenced by a study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition , where the properties of capsaicin are discussed.

Carbohydrates and fats

When stress is high, the person is more likely to have a craving for flour or convenience foods. The latter have saturated and hydrogenated gauze, also salt, additives and preservatives. In addition to causing stress, the risk of being overweight is increased. Instead of a cookie, eat a fruit or a cereal bar when you have “cravings” or can’t wait for lunch.


Salt in excess is not good for your health. The presence of excessive sodium in the diet leads to fluid retention, kidney problems and great discomfort. They raise blood pressure, worsen dehydration and, at the same time, bring anxiety. Avoid precooked or frozen foods, as well as breaded ones. When cooking, prefer sea salt and do not bring the salt shaker to the table so as not to “tempt” you to season the dishes a lot.


While it is true that drinking a glass of red wine with food is good for your health, in this case we are talking about a higher intake. In addition, we talk about other drinks such as “white” (vodka, tequila, etc.) or beer, because it is drunk without realizing it. If alcohol consumption exceeds the limits, it can harm psychological health and intensify stress.


Sugar is one of the “helpers” of the stress-related hormone so that it can develop and raise its levels. Insulin spikes due to the consumption of sweets can cause from irritability to fatigue, also bad mood, insomnia, feeling of heaviness and stress. Eating sweets after dinner is not advised.

Improve your diet to avoid stress

Therefore, you already know what to avoid when going through stressful periods. However, remember that, being closely linked to your diet, the best way to combat stress is through a balanced diet, physical exercise, good hydration and healthy habits. Either way, don’t hesitate to see a mental health specialist if stress affects your daily life.

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