Eat to beat tax time stress
Resist the urge to stuff yourself
Though preparing your taxes may send you into a feeding frenzy, the relief you'll feel is only temporary. As soon as the reality sets in that you haplessly munched through 3,000 calories in a single sitting (and it's not even noon yet!), you'll not only feel glutton-induced lethargy, your stress level will relaunch because your favorite jeans are going to feel like sausage casings.
Pace your meals
Since stuffing food down your throat in copious amounts isn't going to make your tax bill disappear, pace yourself with smaller meals, preferably healthy ones. Eating mini-meals more frequently will help you curb stress because you won't suffer blood sugar swings that can send you over the edge -- and there's nothing worse than experiencing low blood sugar when you're buried under stress. Ideally, have three small meals and two to three snacks comprised of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean proteins and good-for-you fats.
Eating piously for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when tax-time turns up the tension is commendable. But if you're raiding the vending machine or junk food aisle at the convenience store in between meals, you're not doing your body (or diet) any good. Smart snacks include:
- Almond butter and celery sticks or apple slices
- Baked crackers and thin slices of cheese (dig into one of Kashi's Crackers)
- Raw nuts and dried fruit
- Greek-style yogurt and fresh fruit
- Baked chips and salsa (make your own baked tortilla chips)
- Popcorn (for convenience, try Popcorn, Indiana All Natural Kettlecorn)
- Nutrition bars with fiber and protein (we love the Nature Valley Protein Chewy Bars with 10 grams of protein)
Go for whole grains
It's tempting to heap your plate with pasta and cheese when you're freaking out over finances, but rein in your crave for refined flour-carby foods and reach for whole grains. Ditch the white rice, white bread, and other low-fiber foods and replace them with brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, bulgur, whole wheat pasta and couscous, whole wheat bread and cereals, oatmeal, barley, polenta and popcorn. Round out your whole grain helpings with vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, fresh herbs and lean proteins. Toss in salmon, avocados and olives, for a healthy dose of good-for-you fats.
Toss a salad
You may be tempted to hurl small objects at the lack of deductions you can take, but when you're taxed with stress, be sure to toss a salad instead. Generously fill a bowl with dark leafy greens, crunchy fresh vegetables, avocado slices, crumbled cheese, nuts and olives. Salads are low in calories (go easy on the dressing) and deliver a bounty of stress-curbing nutrients that also offer a boon for your overall health. Digging into a salad is a far better option than diving into a bag of chips or cookies.
Serve up salmon
Salmon is a quality source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with heart health, mood boosting, and a decrease in cortisol levels (cortisol is a hormone that your body releases when you are drowning in stress). Add smoked or broiled salmon to your giant salad, serve salmon with brown rice or another whole grain, and make salmon salad sandwiches to tame tax-time tension.
We're not talking about swapping in colas and alcoholic beverages for water since the sugar and alcohol gives you a false sense of comfort. Instead, we're encouraging you to carry a refillable water bottle, such as the new eco-friendly bottle by S'well, which is made of stainless steel, comes in a variety of colors, and will keep your water cold for up to 24 hours. Best yet, you can feel good about your S'well purchase because the company donates 10 percent of its sales to WaterAid to help with programs that improve access to clean water and sanitation. Blessing others can oftentimes make you feel less stress.