There is a link between eating habits and stress. Stress can lead to unhealthy lifestyle patterns just as poor nutrition can lead to more stress, body and mind.
Some of us have busy family lives, demanding careers, or just everyday stress. This can sometimes cause us to turn to food as a coping method or practice poor nutrition habits to simplify hectic and stressful schedules.
Unfortunately consistent unhealthy choices, whether short term or long term, have some consequences.
Some common unhealthy habits triggered by stress:
- Too much caffeine – Can lead to feelings of agitation and trouble sleeping at night.
- Crave foods high in fats, sugars, and salt – Increased cortisol levels from stress can lead to cravings.
- Skipping meals – Can trigger overeating or poor choices at later meal.
- Emotional eating – Reaching for comfort foods or mindless snacking can add to weight gain or health problems.
- Fast food – Often a result of convenience and time but can lead to weight gain and chronic medical conditions.
- Crash diets – Repeated crash dieting can make the brain more susceptible to stress and increase future binge eating of high-fat foods.
- Blood sugar imbalances – Blood sugar fluctuations due to not enough food or imbalance of nutrients (ex. too much sugar) can lead to mood swings, fatigue, and poor concentration.
- Future health issues – Poor nutrition can weaken our immune system which increases our
risk for illness, leading to even more stress.
We can’t always control the stress in our lives but we can control how to deal with it and how to decrease it through nutrition…a powerful medicine.
Certain foods can increase levels of hormones that fight stress. Other foods can lower the levels of hormones that trigger stress.
Here are some foods and beverages that can help manage stress:
- Soothing Tea – Lavender and chamomile have a calming effect.
- Dark Chocolate – Rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, just a small piece can increase serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain.
- Avocados – Full of omega 3 fatty acids that can reduce stress and anxiety, boost concentration, and improve mood. The high amounts potassium can also reduce blood pressure.
- Fatty Fish – Fish like tuna, salmon, and halibut loaded with omega 3’s can help keep stress
hormones under control.
- Nuts – Vitamin B found in nuts can help reduce stress. Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts can
also help reduce blood pressure.
- Water – Staying hydrated can reduce physical stress and fatigue.
- Carbohydrates – Complex carbs, especially oatmeal, can boot our serotonin levels which
helps us to relax. They can also help to stabilize our blood sugar levels, balancing our
energy and moods.
- Fruits and Vegetables – Choosing some that are high in antioxidants and Vitamin C (ex.
berries, oranges) can help boost our immune systems. Eating raw veggies can decrease
tension by releasing a clenched jaw.