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Stress busting snacks and supplements for FIFOs and DIDOs

Stress Busting Snacks

If you fly in and fly out or drive in and drive out, you’ll know that your job has some pretty specific challenges. Take stress, for example – although it’s a regular part of life for most, the emotional aspects of being away from home and the desire to do your best when you’re working can challenge both mind and body.

What you eat and drink can have a real impact on your wellbeing and may even help to curb stress. So when you’re getting ready to go on your way, what stress busting snacks can you pack?

Ravinder Lilly, Dietitian from Australia’s only dedicated health fund for people who work in the transport and energy industries has these top snack and supplement tips.

1. Boost your Bs!

B vitamins are essential for healthy nerves and healthy blood and low levels of B vitamins, especially folate (folic acid) and vitamin B12[i] have been linked with low mood. So to get your intake on the go, try Vegemite (reduced salt variety) or Marmite on wholegrain toast or crackers.

2. Oats are awesome

These ancient grains are a complex carbohydrate and are digested slowly, providing long-term energy. They also trigger your brain to produce the feel-good chemical serotonin. You know that relaxed, soothed feeling you have after enjoying a good meal? That’s partly down to the serotonin. Oats really are an awesome breakfast choice!

3. Pile on the veggies and fruits

Vegies and Fruits

Research suggests that a diet rich in antioxidants may influence positivity. In a recent study, scientists found that people who ate two portions less of fruit and vegetables a day were significantly less optimistic than those who ate three or more[ii]. Opt for bright coloured produce such as oranges, veggie juices and snack on small amounts of dried fruit like apricots, mango or peaches.

4. Make more of minerals

Low zinc levels have been linked with anxiety and depression and your body can’t hang onto this mineral, so try to get some daily. Cashews and Brazil nuts are great zinc providers, as are pumpkin seeds and canned crab. Try crab on wholegrain crackers as a quick snack. Magnesium is another mineral that you may be short on – your body uses up stores of it in times of stress. Involved in the production of the feel-good chemical serotonin, magnesium may help regulate emotions. Pumpkin seeds are again a great option.

5. Put fish on your dish

White fish contains some long chain omega-3 fats and oily fish is especially rich in these essential fats. They’re called essential because your body can’t make them for itself. Needed for many functions including helping to moderate your body’s stress response i.e. when stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol are surging, omega-3 fats may even contribute to helping the heart beat mental stress according to a small US study[iii]. Try canned tuna or salmon – an easy meal on the go!

6. Pack some probiotics

Ever wondered why when you feel stressed your gut sometimes gets affected? And when your gut is stressed you can feel emotionally frazzled? Recent research shows that we have a complex set of nerve cells along the length of the gut and billions of beneficial bacteria live there – they have many functions and are vital for life.

Taking probiotics have been shown to boost mood – scientists from the UCLA School of Medicine showed that taking supplements could relieve anxiety and stress by decreasing activity in the emotional area of the brain[iv].

As well as probiotic supplements, you can find the good guys in fermented foods like sauerkraut and miso soup (have this tepid and not too hot or you’ll kill the beneficial bacteria). Get a tub of miso paste and just add warm water for a quick snack.

It’s bound to be stressful when you’re working away from home and sticking to a rigid working schedule. But feeding your body and mind with the good stuff can make a positive difference to your outlook. Why choose smarter snacks? Because you and your family deserve it!

Ravinder Lilly


[i] Psychology Today. Vitamins: Get Your Bs.

[ii] PubMed. Association between optimism and serum antioxidants in the midlife in the United States study.

[iii] American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. Fish oil and neurovascular reactivity to mental stress in humans.

[iv] UCLA. Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function, UCLA study shows.


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