Sugar calms us down during stress, but it’s a double-edged sword. Research from the University of California, San Francisco found that when stressed-out rats (which are good models for how the stress response works in people) feast on sugar, they are calmer than rats fed regular chow. What was fascinating about these findings was that the rats were most stressed when they didn’t get sugar in their diets.
Before you race to the vending machine with a license to binge, keep in mind just because some is good, doesn’t mean more is better. While a little sugar might sooth rattled nerves, too much sugar wreaks havoc with blood sugar levels and could leave you feeling blue in the long-run. In fact, depression and fatigue subside in some people battling depression when they cut back on sweets, according to research from the University of South Alabama. The trick here is to have a little sugar to calm nerves and boost mood, but not too much to fuel depression, such as:
1 small slice angel food cake topped with 1 /2 cup fresh strawberries
2 whole wheat Fig Newtons and a 6-ounce glass of apricot nectar
Fruit and Chocolate Fondue: Dunk 1 cup fresh strawberries and 1 peeled and sliced kiwi in 1/4 cup fat-free chocolate syrup. (Chocolate contains brain chemicals, such as phenylethylamine or PEA, and anandamide that mimic the feeling of being “in love.”)
2/3 cup berry sorbet topped with 1 cup raspberries