It’s very difficult to eat healthy when you’re stressed. The brain single handedly uses up about 20 per cent of the total energy reserves of the body! This increases when you’re under duress at work, meeting deadlines and monthly targets or racing against time to finish a presentation to beat your competition. These are the times when you are the most vulnerable and convince yourself in the favour of devouring entire bags of chips, cheese filled burgers and pizzas.

Stress eating doesn’t actually help relieve stress in the long run, as you’re bound to feel guilt about all the unhealthy fats you’ve been piling up on. It’s a temporary fix for the brain to feel okay for some time, but it can harmful to your health as it may lead to an increase in cholesterol in blood, not to mention completely derail your fitness goals. But there’s a way around stress-eating. There are healthy foods that can also lower the levels of stress and boost your mood significantly. ALSO READ: Diet Tips for Foodies: Top 7 ingenious tips for food lovers to stay slim and fit!

These are the top seven stress-relieving foods that you can chomp away on, without feeling guilty:

1. Green Leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale might not be your favourite foods might definitely improve your mood. Green leafy veggies contain folate, which is responsible for the release of dopamine from the brain, which is a pleasure-inducing hormone. Moreover, green leafy vegetables are also great for your health. They are packed with mineral and vitamins and are very low in calories. ALSO READ: Best Food Pairings for Weight Loss: Top 5 super food pairs to loose weight faster

2. Oatmeal with berries and walnuts

Oatmeal topped with berries and walnuts is the most unlikely of meals considered to give you a mood boost, but it does. Oats are filling and hence keep hunger at bay, keeping your tummy happy and satiated for longer time. Berries are rich in Vitamin C, which keeps stress and bad mood at bay and walnuts are health superfoods which contain mood boosting Omega 3 fatty acids that are also great for heart health. You can top your oatmeal with all sorts of fruits, but berries are the most effective against stress. ALSO READ: Best pre-work out foods for Weight Loss: Top 5 things to eat before gym to burn fat faster!

3. Warm water with lemon

Warm water will lemon kills food cravings and keeps hunger pangs at bay and also performs detoxifying functions, flushing out toxins from the body. It’s advisable to drink one cup of warm water with some lemon juice the first thing in the morning, as a diet tip as well, as it aids weight loss. The water helps in keeping you hydrated and gives your metabolism a boost, aiding digestion and preventing bloating and acidity. ALSO READ: Best midnight snacks for weight loss: Top 10 yummy and guilt-free foods you can snack on in the night

4. Yogurt

Yogurt, besides being a great source of good fat and proteins, aid digestive health, which is possibly one of the reasons why you’re feeling stressed or unsettled. The bacteria in the gut can contribute to stress in the brain, as there’s a constant ongoing exchange of information between the two. This is why you suffer from heart burn every time you’re stressed. It works the other way round too. Yogurt is full of probiotic bacteria, that kill the bad gut bacteria, hence, reducing stress on the brain. ALSO READ: Foods with Good Fat: Top 10 superfoods to increase good cholesterol in your blood

5. Pistachios

The reason that pistachios are considered as stress-busters is more to do with their shells than anything in the nut itself. Just as activities like knitting, doodling and other repetitive hand actions calm your nerves and silence your negative thoughts, shelling pistachios and popping them in your mouth, is also considered to have a calming effect on your overworked brain. The rhythmic movements of the hands help your brains to relax. Besides, pistachios are great for your overall health, as they help in reducing blood pressure and heart rate. ALSO READ: Best Foods to build Stamina: Top 10 foods to eat for improving stamina and endurance

6. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is the most obviously effective stress-busting food. Cacao has been linked to the release of pleasure-inducing dopamine and happiness hormones endorphins from the brain, immediately releasing stress and relaxing you. They also trigger relaxation of blood vessels, lowering your blood pressure. Besides this, dark chocolate is also full of antioxidants. However, be sure to buy dark chocolate that has more than 70 per cent cacao content. ALSO READ: Best foods for Flat Abs: Top 5 foods to eat for super sexy abs in no time!

7. Warm Milk

Ancient wisdom dictates that warm milk is good before bed. The effect of the drink on your brain might be partially psychosomatic, but there is some science involved in it too. While the warmth helps you relax, because of its connection to familiarity and comfort, it’s also rich in Vitamin D, which is linked with improved mood. Studies have linked panic and depression with low levels of Vitamin D in the diet. Moreover, milk is rich in calcium and proteins.