How Does Stress Affect Your Nutrition?
When we’re feeling rushed and stressed we tend to make poor food choices. These food choices create more stress in the long run, as well as possible health problems. Poor nutrition can lead to lowered immunity so you’re more susceptible to illnesses, both minor and major. When choosing your foods always ask: ‘Will this food cleanse me or clog me?’ Your body, not to mention your stress levels, will feel the difference!
Try some or all of the tips listed below and you should find yourself feeling healthy, more productive and best of all less stressed!
Drinking Too Much Caffeine: When burning the candle at both ends, people often find themselves using coffee as a jump-start in the morning or they form a pattern of all-day coffee, tea or cola drinking. Too much caffeine leads to poor concentration resulting in decreased effectiveness, sleep disturbances, and increased levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the blood. Aim to have no caffeine after 2pm since it has a half life in your body of at least 6 hours so it can interfere with your sleep at night. Begin by gradually weaning yourself off of large amounts of caffeine. A relatively easy and healthy way to do that is to replace more of your tea and coffee with herbal teas.
Munching on Junk Food: Due partially to increased levels of cortisol, stress makes us prone to emotional eating so we eat when we aren’t hungry, or eat foods that are bad for us. Stress makes us crave foods high in fat, sugar and salt. When you think about it how often have you turned to your favourite junk food after a long, stressful day? You can replace less-healthy munchies with carrots, sunflower seeds, edaname beans, protein bars, celery sticks, or other healthy choices. (Even popcorn is a better choice if you leave out the butter and salt.)
Skipping Meals: Have you ever found yourself rushing out of the house without a healthy breakfast (picking up a latte doesn’t count!), or realizing you’re starving in the late afternoon because you didn’t eat lunch? When we don’t eat healthy food (too little protein and healthy carbohydrates, too much sugar, etc.) we can experience blood sugar fluctuations. These fluctuations can lead to mood swings, fatigue, poor concentration and other negative consequences in the short term, and greater health problems like hyperglycemia in the long term. Grab a hard-boiled egg, piece of fruit and a small orange juice on your way out the door.
Forgetting Water: When you are busy, it’s easy to forget to drink water. A good portion of people only get water from sodas or tea and coffee. If you’re a cola drinker, you’re probably experiencing the same caffeine-related side effects that coffee drinkers experience. To stay hydrated try to drink eight glasses per day, or even four. Try sparkling water, you’ll still be getting a refreshing treat, but you’ll be adding water to your system rather than detracting it.
Crash Diets: Weight gain due to stress is common, so some people intentionally eat less food than they need, or try dangerous fad diets to lose the excess weight fast. These diets aren’t balanced with fruits and vegetables, protein and healthy carbohydrates and can often be bad for your health in the long run, even if they look attractive short term. Make healthy food choices.
Planning Ahead: People who are rushed find it’s easier to just drive through a fast food place or go to a restaurant than go home and cook something. The best way is to plan a menu of healthy meals and snacks at the beginning of each week, make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need and shop for everything once a week. That way you know you’ll have what you want when you need it, and you won’t have to stress over what to eat each night; you’ll already have thought of it. This makes eating at home much easier too.