You mean eating right can help with STRESS?!

stress and nutrition

The long commute to work, your co-workers leaving all the work for you, deadlines moving up, driving in rush hour traffic, picking up the kids, making dinner, driving to swim class, your other child has a cold and just wiped his noise on your shirt… and on, and on , and on, which leads to STRESS!

Stress is a part of life. As a matter of fact stress can be good for you. Stress helps you to stay alert, motivated and able to respond to danger.

Too much stress, however, can not only affect your health but can also cause poor eating choices.

Think about it. How many times do you crave fatty, salty or sugary foods when stressed? How many times do you want your “comfort food”? Have you ever sat down after a really hard day and ate ice cream or chocolate or a bag of chips or a glass of wine because it was a hard day and “I deserve it!”?

The effects of stress can not only be disastrous to you emotionally but also physically.

During times of stress your adrenal glands produce adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones increase your blood sugar (gives you a burst of energy), heart rate, and blood pressure. After the crisis has past, your heart rate and blood pressure go back to normal but your blood sugar drops (sugar carvings anyone?) so you reach for something sugary, get that burst of energy then the crash and cycle starts all over again.

Some other common problems with stress are indigestion, bloating, weight gain, low immunity to diseases and can even cause anxiety and depression.

Nutrition Tips

Proper nutrition can help combat stress by preventing your blood sugar from crashing, helping your immune system and helping your digestive system.

  • Eat your meals – Skipping meals while stressed is one of the worst things you can do (you are setting yourself up for the CRASH). If you don’t have time for a meal at that moment then make it a snack (grab a piece of fruit or a protein shake) and have a proper meal later on (Do not go longer than 2 hrs). 
  • Chew your food – Eating a whole chicken breast in one bit only adds more stress to your body, especially your digestive system. Chewing your food properly helps your body digest and absorb the nutrients it needs.
  • Water, Water, Water – It is so easy to forget to drink water but if you are dehydrated you might be craving salty foods. If you think coffee will help you get through your stressful day, then I regret to tell you this but caffeine raises stress hormones as well as potentially leading to dehydration.
  • Healthy Snacks – Having healthy snacks throughout the day will help to prevent reaching for that bag of chips. Carrots, celery, cucumbers, hard boiled eggs, jerky (I like beef jerky but chicken or turkey jerky works well too), nuts and seeds and some fruit have very little prep time and will help you get through the day.

Bonus Tips

Stress can’t be overcome by nutrition alone; here are some extra tips to help

  • Exercise – That’s right get your ass to the CFTO gym! Exercise helps to reduce stress. If you can’t make it to the gym then take a walk on your lunch break, play with the dog, play with the kids get moving!
  • Laugh – Okay this isn’t nutrition based but I still think it is important. Laughter helps to alleviate stress have you ever seen anyone who is laughing and stressed? Talk to friends, listen to the radio, watch a youtube video, think of something funny (if you have kids this should be easy to do)

Stress is a natural part of life, we all have it and we all have to deal with it. Do you have any tips or ticks to help with stress? Share with us in the comments below.

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