Five stress-relieving foods to help comfort eaters

Stress-busting foodsPic: Getty

It's no secret that we should all be eating a healthily, but when the stress levels begin to rise, the temptation to comfort eat can quickly put paid to that balanced diet.

Keep your comfort eating cravings at bay with these naturally stress-busting foods.

Black tea
Green tea has long been praised for its antioxidant properties, and black tea is also an antioxidant miracle worker. What's more, the amino acids have been shown to affect the brain's neurotransmitters, which help to reduce levels of cortisol. By keeping the stress hormone under control, you'll be far less likely to head for those fat or sugar-filled treats.

As a slow-release energy supplier, oatmeal is a great idea for those who struggle to avoid the unhealthy snacks during that mid-morning slump. And its high levels of complex carbohydrates - involved in the release of happy hormone serotonin - mean you'll be regulating your mood as well as your appetite.

Dark chocolate
A little of what you fancy is never a bad thing, but if you're bit of a chocoaholic, the best idea is to go for the dark stuff. The flavanols in cocoa possess antioxidant qualities, and research has shown that they could even help to lower blood pressure, as well as improve blood flow to the brain and heart. And to top it off, dark chocolate aids in the release of dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure. Look for bars that contain 70% or more cocoa solids to get the real benefit, and take your time with a couple of squares each day to boost your feeling of wellbeing and stop you reaching for the unhealthy alternatives.

They might be high in fact, but avocados are rich in the healthy monounsaturated variety, which keeps your brain and nerves sharp, and will keep you feeling full. The added benefit of high potassium levels (more even than bananas), which helps to lower blood pressure, means it's a healthy but still satisfying treat to add to your salad or sandwich.

Hopefully the Christmas turkey overdose has now long passed, because this lean protein source is also blessed with the amino acid L-tryptophan. It triggers the release of feel-good chemical serotonin, and will leave you feel relaxed and calm, whilst still giving you that protein boost.

How do you stop yourself comfort eating? Leave your comments below...