The path to healthy eating is an easy one - don't eat too much or too little, and choose the right types of foods for your body.

Translating that into reality is something different altogether.

For some of us, our relationship with food is more than just an activity to fuel our body - it can be deeply entrenched in how we view the world, react to it and how we view ourselves.

Psychologist Dr Susan Albers, who has just published Quit Comfort Eating has written a very easy-to-follow book about the subject. She says: "Some of the smartest people I know overeat. They are successful in business, responsible , and creative. They know what a healthy lifestyle looks like: more fruits and vegetables, fewer processed foods, regular exercise.

"My clients have asked one question over and over again: How can I know how to eat well and not be able to do it? To give you a hint, more often than not it's a feeling or emotion that lies in the gap between your decision and your actions."

Stress can be a big contributor to why we make poor decisions with food. In this extract, we present the top 10 foods from the book that help buffer the negative effects of stress:

dark chocolate
1. Dark chocolate helps release dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure. It's helpful to mindfully savour one ounce a day, the recommended daily amount.

2. Oatmeal is rich in complex carbohydrates, involved in the release of serotonin. this brain chemical, which plays a major role in the regulation of mood and appetite, helps keeps cravings in check.

3. Kiwi is an excellent source of vitamin C, which boosts the immune systems and lowers cortisol levels. This is important because your immune system is compromised when stressed and makes you more susceptible to illness. Other C-rich foods include guavas, bell peppers, oranges, papaya and strawberries.

4. Spinach is rich in the mineral magnesium, which plays a key role in regulating and lowering blood pressure (blood pressure is often raised by stress). Enjoy it as a salad, add to pasta or slide a few leaves into a sandwich.


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5. Skimmed milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that creates serotonin and that research has linked with making people feel relaxed and sleepy. Try a glass if you can't sleep or to help reduce stress-related PMS symptoms.

6. Salmon is rich in healthy fats called omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation and pain. To ramp down your stress level, eat foods that can help reduce pain and swelling. If you don't like salmon, try walnuts, flaxseed, cabbage, cauliflower, or omega-3-fortified eggs, milk, juice and yogurt.

black tea
7. Black tea contains antioxidants and amino acids that have been found to affect the neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters naturally reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, the hormone that makes you crave sugary, fatty foods.

8. Avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fat, which keeps you more satisfied and helps regulate nerve communication, which helps you think clearer. Cut it into slices and put some on a sandwich or just have some for a snack. or make it into guacamole.

9. Tart cherries appear to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help the prevention, treatment and recovery of soft tissue injury and pain.

10. Pistachios which contain the least amount of fat and calories of any nut, help keep your mood stable and your blood sugar steady. Buy them in the shell - opening them one by one helps you eat them slowly and avoid eating too many.

Quit Comfort Eating, Dr Susan Albers, £12.99, Piatkus

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