How Do I Manage Stress With Good Nutrition?
Multiple times a week, we justify eating junk food because “we are so stressed out.” It’s almost become acceptable to eat poorly or indulge due to stress when we should be doing the exact opposite in order to fight the stress. When people are under long-term stress due to a job, consistent travel, busy lives or an emotional situation, that stress can cause temporary unhealthy eating habits to become permanent habits if not recognized and turned around quickly!
People that are always on-the-go and leading a very busy lifestyle especially fall into the trap of stress eating. Because the body releases the hormone cortisol in response to stress, chronic stress (and constant cortisol release) actually makes the body crave foods that are high in fat and sugar. Eating these foods releases dopamine, a feel-good hormone, and only causes us to want more and more because of the intense feeling of pleasure when consumed. Those of us that get used to eating “junk food” in large quantities or on a consistent basis demand a lot more sugar and fat to reach the same threshold of pleasure as they once experienced with smaller amounts of the foods. These people may, in fact, continue to overeat as a way of recapturing or even maintaining a sense of well-being.
It seems harmless to enjoy an unhealthy meal on the road or an extra dessert because “you deserve it” for working so hard, but when it becomes a habit there are many potential effects on the body.
Enjoying fast food more frequently, forgetting or skipping meals, high-caffeine intake and fad diets are all common problems when chronic or unmanaged stress takes over.
Lack of good nutrition happens when too much fast food is eaten on a consistent basis. On the other side of the spectrum, lack of good nutrition also happens when skipping or forgetting meals altogether. At this point, people often turn to increased caffeine consumption as well. Won’t more caffeine make me feel more awake and help me perform better at work? From high cholesterol and high sugar levels to low antioxidant intake, either habit cannot provide the body with what it truly needs to function and perform like it should. This ultimately leads to poor energy levels and a cycle of low-quality food that’s high in fat, sugar and caffeine to make us feel more awake, alert and happy. This pattern or addiction to sugar, fat and caffeine damages the body because it is working when it should be resting. Without good nutrition and rest for the body, stress cannot truly lessen.
By getting stuck in a pattern of high-sugar or high-fat food intake, a person will start to encounter inconsistencies in their blood sugars. These inconsistencies lead to constant fatigue, poor concentration and mood swings. Typically following blood sugar issues is weight gain. As mentioned, increased cortisol produced by stress gives us a strong urge to indulge in foods that are high in carbohydrates, sugars and fats. This pattern of eating will ultimately result in excess fat being stored around the upper half of your body, mainly the abdomen. This type of fat around the abdomen, also known as visceral fat, can lead to serious health problems, mainly concerning the heart. Continued stress will only make this problem worse.
Lastly, under stress, the body’s natural defenses can be severely affected and leave the person with a weaker immune system, making it easier to get sick. If the stressed person falls ill, then this will only lead to an increased amount of stress inflicted on the body.
Years of research on the body under stress can help us see where stress causes us to lack specific vitamins and minerals. When the body is under stress, it has been proven that the body uses up its resources even faster than normal.
Here are the main nutrients that the body will use up and how to replenish them asap!
|Vitamin/Nutrient being used up by stress||How does it help the body?||How can we replenish it quickly?|
|B Vitamins||Cope with stress, influence metabolism and nervous system||Meat
|A Vitamins||Vision and Eye function||Carrots
|C Vitamins||Protects Immune System||Broccoli
|Magnesium||Muscle function, cell production and heart regulation||Spinach
|Protein||Growth and repair of all tissues and muscle||Lean Meat
Check out STYR’s stress management meal plan for the specific plan to get you back on track and out of the junk food cycle!
Stress Management Society: http://www.stress.org.uk/
Beating Stress through Nutrition: https://psychcentral.com/lib/beating-stress-through-nutrition/
Stress, Nutrition & Diet: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/stress-nutrition-diet.html
Stress Exposure, Food Intake, and Emotional State: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4843770/
If you are interested to hear more and receive personalized nutrition, check out STYR’s app, fitness tracker and suite of connected smart devices. Through the platform, you can track and log activity, food, hydration, sleep, nutrition, mood and more to personalize your nutrition needs based on data, science and access to registered dietitians, nutritionists and personal trainers.
Please note that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We insist that you always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical/health condition or treatment and before initiating a new health care regime. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the STYR app or on www.MyNutritioniQ.com.