What To Eat When You Are Stressed Or Depressed Or Just Cant Sleep

It’s true what they say: food is medicine—well, certain foods are at least.

While adding certain things to your plate may actually exacerbate hard-to-handle emotions like stress and depression, other foods will help pull you through with ease—without sacrificing your waistline in the process.

Read on to learn what science-backed natural cures to keep on hand and which one to keep far, far away—so you’re prepared with the best “medicine” no matter which emotional hurdles come your way.

WHEN YOU’RE STRESSED

EAT THIS

Low-Fat Plain Yogurt (8 oz) with Mixed Nuts (1 Tbsp)

Calories 205
Fat 10 G
Saturated Fat 2.5 G
Carbs 17.5 G
Sugar 15 G
Protein 13 G

NOT THAT!

Soda (12 oz)

Calories 140
Fat 0 G
Saturated Fat 0 G
Carbs 39 G
Sugar 39 G
Protein 0 G

We get it: When stressful situations strike, popping open a can of soda can make it seem like everything’s going to be alright. But we know better, and now you will too: People who drink just two cans of soda daily are three times more likely to be depressed and anxious, compared to those who drink fewer, a study from the American Journal of Public Health found. Plus, cola is filled with artificial dyes that are possible human carcinogens and sweeteners that can lead to weight gain and obesity-related diseases. Next time you’re pulling your hair out, mix a cup of lowfat, plain yogurt with a tablespoon of raw nuts. The duo serves up a hefty dose of lysine and arginine, amino acids that decreases feelings of anxiety and stress.

WHEN YOU’RE DEPRESSED

EAT THIS

70% Dark Chocolate (1 oz)

Calories 170
Fat 12 G
Saturated Fat 6.9 G
Carbs 13 G
Sugar 6.8 G

NOT THAT!

White Chocolate (1 oz)

Calories 151
Fat 9 G
Saturated Fat 5 G
Carbs 16.6 G
Sugar 16.5 G

Although you may hear your sweet tooth calling when you’re feeling down in the dumps, it will serve you best to ignore it—especially if you’re craving white chocolate. White chocolate isn’t technically chocolate, since it contains no cocoa solids. That means it also lacks the ability to stimulate the euphoria-inducing chemicals that real chocolate does, especially serotonin. If you’re going to grab some chocolate, the darker the better. More cacao equals more happy chemicals and less sugar—which would only pull you down and make you frown.

WHEN YOU’RE FEELING FAT

EAT THIS

Grilled Chicken Breast (3 oz)

Calories 128
Fat 2.6 G
Saturated Fat 0.8 G
Sodium 44 MG
Carbs 0 G
Protein 26 G

NOT THAT!

Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup (1/2 cup)

Calories 60
Fat 2 G
Saturated Fat 0.5 G
Sodium 890 MG
Carbs 8 G
Protein 3 G

While soup may seem like the perfect slimming pick when you’re feeling a bit paunchy, most varieties are loaded with sodium, which can lead to water retention and make your stomach feel like a beach ball. Instead of slurping away, make a meal featuring grilled chicken breasts or other lean meats. Their protein will boost satiety and help ward off those hard-to-ignore, diet-derailing cravings. Plus, high-protein meals help build fat-frying muscle mass and boost post-meal calorie burn, which will help you get that trim look you crave.

WHEN YOU’RE LOW ON ENERGY

EAT THIS

Unsalted Raisin and Nut Trail Mix (1 oz)

Calories 130
Fat 7 G
Saturated Fat 1 G
Carbs 13 G
Sugar 7 G

NOT THAT!

Whole Milk Mocha Frappuccino with Whipped Cream (16 oz)

Calories 410
Fat 15 G
Saturated Fat 9 G
Carbs 65 G
Sugar 61 G

Although a Frap may seem like the perfect way to get through the 4 p.m. slump, the 61 grams of sugar (!!!) will cause your blood sugar to spike and, ultimately, send you crashing. Instead of heading to Starbucks, snack on a small handful of unsalted trail mix. The raisins provide potassium, which the body uses to convert sugar into energy, while the nuts stock your body with magnesium, a nutrient that wards off the production of lactic acid—the same a fatigue-inducing substance that you feel at the end of a long workout.

WHEN YOU CAN’T SLEEP

EAT THIS

Air-Popped Popcorn (1 cup)

Calories 31
Fat 0.3 G
Saturated Fat 0 G
Carbs 6 G
Protein 1 G

NOT THAT!

Warm 1% Milk (8 oz)

Calories 118
Fat 2.8 G
Saturated Fat 1.7 G
Carbs 13.5 G
Protein 9.6 G

Forget what your mom told you about warm milk: This popular remedy for sleeplessness could be making matters worse. The protein in milk boosts alertness. Plus, unless it’s skim, the fat in milk slows down digestion and makes sleep more fitful. Instead, air-pop some popcorn half an hour before bedtime: The carbs will induce the creation serotonin, a neurochemical that makes you feel relaxed. Skip the butter—fat will slow the process of boosting serotonin levels.