By Ann Gatty
Eating well with proper nutrition is a great way to combat stress buildup and actually in many cases, relieve stress. People who are experiencing a good amount of stress may find that they are prone to overeat, or not eat or rely on junk food. If you find yourself experiencing more stress and or find your life becoming more hectic, guard against making poor nutritional choices because that can actually increase your stress levels. Consider the following scenario: You are in a rush and late for work. No time for breakfast, so what do you grab? Maybe you pick up a doughnut or something else that can be eaten on the run. See how stress can create poor nutrition? Or you are tired after a long day of running errands or work or both and decide to slide through the drive through window at the nearest fast food establishment. What do you order? Probably junk food high in sodium, fat and calories. Another example of how your hectic and stressful life can encourage poor nutrition. Do you overeat when you are nervous because you have all that nervous energy? This emotional eating may seem like a comfort at the time but in the long run you are most likely eating the wrong types of food and too much of it.
Nutrition and Stress are Related
So what we find is that nutrition and stress are related. One affects the other and if you are not careful you will find that your eating habits in relation to stress can become an unhealthy vicious cycle. Poor nutrition can affect your capacity to react and cope with stress. Do good nutrition is an effective stress management strategy. Since stress raises your metabolism level and depletes your body of important sate soluble vitamins and minerals, it is important that when over stressed you take a vitamin supplement rich in vitamins B and C. When you body has low levels of the B vitamins, you will find yourself more tired and more likely to be reactive to stress. A healthy diet, with fruits, vegetables, grains, lean meat and fish, can enhance your immune system and boost your energy level which is vital in dealing with stress.
Eat Well to Reduce Stress
Below, the food pyramid illustrates the amount of foods one should consume from the various food groups on a daily basis. Good nutrition includes whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean sources of protein. These foods provide women with plenty of energy, and the elements for looking and feeling god as you move through the various stages of life. What you eat impact your physical and emotional health as go through different stages in life. Food choices can help reduce PMS, combat stress, assist with pregnancy and ease the symptoms of menopause. A healthy diet also enhances the immune system and helps to maintain reasonable energy levels which are essential in dealing with stress. To be successful at eating healthy foods, consider the following recommendations:
Enjoy what you eat! But we know we can not live on chocolate alone, so we need to eat healthy diet. So really, we need to enjoy foods that are healthy!! Try to acquire a taste for healthy foods in each of the pyramid groups. If you don't like raw vegetables, maybe you like them steamed. Steaming removes less nutrients than does boiling. As you try to incorporate the various food group goals from the pyramid, you may find yourself trying new recipes that include such foods.
Enjoy various foods without excess. Don't over indulge but don't purge all the desserts from your diet either. If you are full, you have finished eating. Don't overeat or starve yourself because your body can tell you when it is hungry and when it is not.
Stock your pantry with healthy foods. When you are shopping for foods, avoid the tempting sugary, fatty and otherwise unhealthy foods and purchase foods that will allow you to prepare healthy meals and snacks. With limited unhealthy foods in the house, you will be forced to snack on healthy food even when you are stressed.
Stress Relief Nutrition Tips
1. Drink Plenty of Water. Water is a fundamental part of our lives. Human survival is dependent on water. The average adult body is 55 to 75% water. Two thirds of your body weight is water. We can exist without food for 2 months or more, but we can only survive for a few days without water.
Most people do not drink enough water. A non active person needs a half ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. That is ten 8-ounce glasses a day if you weigh 160 pounds. For every 25 pounds you exceed your ideal weight, increase it by one 8-ounce glass. An active, athletic person needs 2/3 ounce per pound which is 13-14 8-ounce glasses a day if you weigh 160 pounds. The more you exercise the more water you need. You should space your water intake throughout the day.
Water is the medium used to move nutrients, hormones, antibodies, and oxygen through the blood stream and lymphatic system. The human body's kidneys do not function properly without adequate water intake. Most people whose bodies retain water actually do not drink enough water. The body sees this as a threat to survival and holds on to the water when you do drink water which causes swollen hands feet and legs. The best way to overcome water retention is to give the body what is needs: plenty of water and then water stored will be released.
2. Eat Breakfast. A solid breakfast starts the body metabolism with energy. Skipping breakfast makes it more difficult to maintain stable blood sugar levels and effective focus. Studies show that people who eat breakfast tend to weigh less than those who skip it. A juice, and/or fruit, along with a carbohydrate grain product and protein works well. Even if you think you are not hungry and don't need the calories, a cup of coffee with cream is not a nutritious hot breakfast!!
3. Increase Your Calcium Intake. Women are at a greater risk than men for developing osteoporosis, so it is important to get plenty of calcium to support bone health. Also, low fat dairy products such as yogurt are high in calcium and magnesium which have been shown to reduce stress because these two nutrients relax muscle fibers.
4. Cut down on caffeine. Caffeine consumption interferes with hormone levels in women and also increases the loss of calcium. You can also reduce the stress levels and improve mental performance throughout the day if you gradually wean yourself off the large amounts of caffeine. Caffeine is found in coffee and cola drinks. A more healthful alternative is fruit juice or sparkling water if you really desire the cola. Also drinking caffeine actually depletes your body of water which is necessary to rid your body of toxins.
5. Have Healthy Snacks Available. Munching is often a common occurrence when people are stressed. If you find yourself grabbing whatever is nearby, try to have healthy snacks available. Replace your chips fruits, carrot sticks or granola bars or other energy bars. Also having such protein-rich snacks available even in your purse or car, can help keep blood sugar levels from dropping and can stave off mood swings and fatigue.
Remember to watch you diet when you are experiencing high levels of stress. Enjoy healthy nutritious meals to combat the effects of stress. By planning ahead you can prepare meals that allow you to maintain high levels of energy and avoid fatigue that often accompanies stress.
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