Let's be real: No matter how healthy you look look on Instagram, EVERYONE has that emergency stash of Ben and Jerry's or nacho chips stowed away for when life gets stressful.
Stress eating happens to everyone—even nutritionists. But unlike us mere mortals, R.D.s tend to have slightly healthier stress-eating go-tos that we all could learn from. Because the last thing you want when life gets hectic is to have a serious case of bloating from that plate of cheese fries on top of all the stress.
1. SALTED NUTS
"I almost always crave something crunchy, so I feel okay indulging in lightly-salted or cinnamon- or cocoa-dusted walnuts or almonds. Nuts are a source of magnesium, which may help with irritability, plus I get a dose of healthy fats, protein, and fibre. I also love frozen grapes because they take a while to eat and are a sweet, antioxidant-rich distraction." — Marisa Moore, dietitian
2. ICE CREAM
"I try not to stress eat, but if I do, it's frozen yogurt or ice cream for me. Rainbow sprinkles are my favourite topping. Fortunately, with new lower-calorie, lower-sugar, higher-protein ice creams, my guilty pleasure is less guilty." —Lauren Harris-Pincus, dietitian, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club.
4. YOGURT AND BERRIES
"When I’m stressed, I reach for foods that keep my blood sugar and energy stable and provide nutrients that boost cognitive function. I often reach for plain whole-milk Greek yogurt for those probiotic bacteria, as gut health impacts emotional and mental health. I add chia seeds or ground flax for extra fibre and plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. Adding fresh or frozen blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries on top adds some inflammation-fighting antioxidants. " — Jessica Cording, dietitian
5. CHOCOLATE COVERED NUTS
"Let’s be honest—I could snack on baby carrots or bell pepper sticks, but it just won't satisfy my desire for salty and sweet! That's why one of my favourite foods to eat when I'm stressed out are chocolate-covered nuts or chocolate-covered roasted chickpeas. When I'm stressed I tend to want something to crunch on, plus they’re a filling combo thanks to their fibre, protein, and fat content. " —Jessica Levinson, dietitian, culinary nutrition expert.
6. HUMMUS AND BEANS
"When I’m stressed out, I reach for creamy and savoury foods made from pulses (like beans, chickpeas, and lentils), including hummus and, my ultimate favourite, refried beans topped with avocado. They’re rich in good-mood nutrients including folate, magnesium, and zinc, plus the fibre and protein keeps me full." —Lindsey Pine, dietitian
7. CARROTS AND NUT BUTTER
"Biting down on something crunchy helps when I’m stressed out, so I love to chew on raw baby carrots paired with a tablespoon or two of almond butter. Bonus: Almonds are a good source of magnesium, which naturally calms you down and helps fight anxiety." —Brigitte Zeitlin, dietitian
"It's far too easy to mindlessly eat when I’m stressed, so I try and remember to take my time. I like pistachios because they are in a shell, which forces me to slow down while snacking. The empty shells are also a visual cue that lets me know how much I've actually eaten." —Alexandra Caspero, dietitian
9. LEAFY GREENS
"It might sound weird, but given that your brain really needs good nutrition to operate at its best, I’m actually most likely to take a good look at my diet and see what might be missing to eat more healthfully when I’m stressed. Usually I’ll find that I’m not eating enough produce, so I’ll try to make sure I’m getting at least seven servings of fruits and veggies, especially leafy green veggies like spinach and kale, since they’re packed with folate to help balance mood." —Karen Ansel, dietitian, author of The Calendar Diet.
This article originally appeared in Women's Health US