How often do you come home from a hectic day at work that left you no time for lunch? After an equally stressful commute, you walk in the door feeling famished. You know it’s too early for dinner but your nerves are shot and you just can’t wait. “I just need a quick fix,” you think, as you dash into the pantry. “Hmmm….that candy bar looks good. And hey, those chips look yummy!” Rationalizing that you’ll feel less stressed, and you’ll eat better the next time, and you’ll work out at the gym for an extra 15 minutes tomorrow, you wolf down whatever you see.
But tomorrow’s less stressful day never comes. You only feel more on edge, and the pattern repeats itself.
Does this sound familiar? Today’s stress prompts poor, impulsive eating choices that only make you feel more stressed out tomorrow. This vicious cycle contributes to an unhealthy body, and leaves you feeling less able to cope in the long and short term.
While sugary, salty, fatty foods and caffeinated drinks seem convenient and tasty, they actually increase your stress levels. A long-term diet that’s low in nutrients, minerals, and vitamins depletes your reserves and makes you less able to cope with the challenges of modern living.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
How often have you heard that old saying? Well, it’s still around because it’s true! Not only is what you eat important, but so are how and when you eat, and how the food is grown or raised.
In today’s modern world, the media constantly proclaims the latest warnings about the dangers of one food or the virtues of another. (And have you ever noticed that today’s “good” food was on yesterday’s “bad” list?) While food is not to blame for boosting your stress levels and it can’t fix all your problems, most experts regard good nutrition as a critical part of stress management.
Unfortunately, few people know how their food is processed or what went into the farming and raising of crops, and they barely take time to stop and savor the nutrients they eat.
- Which foods should you eat?
- How should you prepare them?
- Which supplements are good for you?
Learning about food and answering these questions can seem daunting, but eating a good diet that helps you manage your stress means combining traditional nutritional concepts with modern health concepts (such as nutraceuticals) and the awareness of how food is grown or raised.
Stress management is often about choices. Certain choices such as exercising daily, having a strong social support network, and choosing nutritious foods can help you stay balanced and healthy. Breaking the cycle of stress-based eating means making small choices every day about what you put in your mouth and your body. While making big changes all at once can feel daunting, small changes every day add up over the long term and can result in significant improvements to your health and the health of the planet.