March 31, 2010

Staving off Stress

Wheatley, Valerie

By Valerie Wheatley, R.D., L.D., L.D.N
Hy-Vee Registered Dietician
(309) 787-0273

Add a generous serving of antioxidants. Antioxidants (like vitamin E, vitamin C, and carotenoids) provide the nutrients you need to stay healthy and fight off stress.

Work deadlines, retirement planning, mounting bills. While there isn’t one magic food to combat the stress in your life, what you eat (and how you eat it) can directly affect your energy level, influence your moods and assist the body in coping with stress. Taste-test our recipe for relaxation.

Start with one ounce of prevention. A hectic schedule often affects our ability to shop for and prepare healthy meals. Our advice: plan. Sit down at the beginning of the week and plan your meals and snacks for the week. If you have something on your mind and in the fridge for dinner, you are guaranteed to save time, spend less money, decrease your stress and increase your nutrition!

Add a generous serving of antioxidants. Antioxidants (like vitamin E, vitamin C, and carotenoids) provide the nutrients you need to stay healthy and fight off stress. Our advice: super-size them! Vitamin E can be found in wheat germ, whole-grain products, many vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and cantaloupe. Carotenoids are found in deep-orange or dark-green produce, like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, spinach, broccoli and turnip greens.

Flavor with a pinch of leisure. Take time to enjoy your meal and pay conscious attention to how well you chew your food. This will reduce your stress by helping to take your mind off worrisome thoughts . . . not to mention well-chewed food is easier for our digestive systems to break down! Our advice: slow down. Turn off the TV and make a contract with yourself to never eat while driving. Make it a habit to chew each bite about 20 to 30 times.

Stir well, omitting (or limiting) caffeine and alcohol. Coffee and other caffeinated foods can create anxiety, nervousness, depression and insomnia. And while alcohol may have a reputation as a relaxant, it can often have the exact opposite effect. Alcohol tends to overtax the liver, which may actually increase your tension. Our advice: make the switch. Reach for herbal teas, 100% fruit juices, seltzer or hot water with lemon instead.

Eating a balanced diet and sticking to a scheduled meal plan are keys in winning the war against stress. Let Hy-Vee help you with our “Weekly Menu Suggestions” available at your local Hy-Vee. This brochure offers a dinner suggestion for every night of the week – and even includes a nutrient analysis, easy recipes and a shopping list!

Fruit Pizza

Serves 24.
Source: Stacy Mitchell, RD, LD, Bettendorf Hy-Vee Dietitian
– WQPT “Get Movin’” TV Show.

All you need:
1 can navy beans, undrained
1 pkg. (17.5 oz) sugar cookie mix

Filling & Topping:
1 container brown sugar whipped cream cheese
2 c. cut-up mixed fruit (melon, berries and oranges)

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Puree navy beans including water from can in a blender.
3. Pour sugar cookie mix into a large bowl and add pureed bean mixture.
4. Spread mixture onto an 11-by- 9- inch cookie sheet pan.
5. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool crust for 15 minutes.
6. Spread cream cheese onto crust and top with mixed fruit.

Nutrition information per serving:
Calories: 140
Carbohydrate: 22g
Cholesterol: 10mg
Dietary Fiber: 5g
Fat: 4.5g
Protein: 3g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Sodium: 170mg
Sugar: 11g
Trans fats: 0g