Dieting: Your Way to Stress Management
Stress relief through your diet may seem odd, but think about your reaction to daily stress. You may notice that you reach for the potato chips when a television program becomes particularly frightening. Or you grab the crackers at work when you learn that you’ll have to handle a new project. You may also nibble on candy bars when you’re having difficulty controlling your children. These eating patterns are all a reaction to stress. Snacking gives you the sensation of instant fulfillment. But the fulfillment is shortlived.
Stress plays an important part in our daily diet. In fact, a great deal of overeating has been attributed to stress. However, it is also true that your diet can have an impact on stress. Depending on what you eat can add or help reduce stress. There are certain foods that tend to worsen our stress levels. A number of these foods fall into the category of stimulants.
Of course, the best-known stimulant is caffeine. You’ll find it not only in coffee, but in soft drinks, tea, and chocolate. Your heart beat races, as does your mind, when you are served a significant amount of caffeine. Caffeine consumption may even be connected to high blood pressure. However, you might not want to cut out caffeine entirely all at once. A gradual reduction will help lessen your withdrawal symptoms.
Chances are you will experience a great deal of stress after eating sugar. This is because this sweet substance can exhaust the adrenal glands, leading to depression and irritability. While some people tend to reach for sugar cookies when they are feeling stressed, the irony is that sugar-filled snacks can actually make you feel even more stressed out. Especially watch out for the new caffinated drinks like lattes and cappucinos. They add caffine, fat and sugar! So while you are sitting in a cafe, thinking you are relaxing and reducing stress, you are adding more stress to your life.
Consuming alcohol can also increase your stress level. It leads to the production of adrenaline, which can cause you to have difficulty sleeping. You might also experience a feeling of tension as a result of your alcohol intake. In addition, alcohol makes it more difficult for the body to get rid of toxins. Alcohol adds another aspect that impacts your stress level: smoking. Quite often individuals associate smoking with drinking alcohol. Smoking is also quite dangerous, increasing hypertension and leading to heart disease.
Salt and fat are two substances that can increase your stress level. Salt, for instance, raises the blood pressure, causing an individual to feel as if his or her emotions are out of control. Many prepared diet frozen meals are high in salt content. As a result, you should not eat high-salt foods such as ham or sausage. Many processed foods especially canned foods have high content of salt (sodium). Meanwhile, consuming fat can put strain on the cardiovascular system, leading to more stress. In general, you should avoid highly processed food, which tends to be sparse in nutritional value.
If you want to get your stress level under control, consider a diet that is rich in whole foods, fruits, and vegetables. These are natural stress-busters, filled with nutrients that will help you to feel good over the long run. Also, these foods are far less likely to result in weight gain—another significant cause of stress. Place a bowl of carrot and celery sticks in the place of your snack foods. Some dieticians recommend eating a diet that is 65 to 70 percent raw in order to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of nutrients—nutrients which could be otherwise lost during the cooking process.
How do you know if your diet is stressing you out? Pay close attention to the warning signs. For instance, do you get headaches right after eating? Are you experiencing neck or back pain? Do you feel irritable after dinner? Do you feel anxious for no reason? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you could be dealing with food-induced stress. Keeping a food diary can help you determine what foods make you feel better and which ones add to your own personaal stress level.
There is no question that eating right can reduce your stress. Indulging in caffeine-filled drinks or fatty foods can simply make you hyper, unable to relax or to concentrate. However, if you eat meals that are rich in vitamins and minerals, you could find your stress level significantly reduced. Plan your meals ahead of time to ensure that you receive the maximum nutrition. Be sure to eat slowly and deliberately—feeling rushed at mealtime can contribute to your stress level.
The good news is diet is a stressor you can easily control. By following a few common sense techniques, you can ensure that you are eating a diet which will greatly reduce your stress.