Are you stressed? You’re probably thinking, “Ha! Who isn’t?”
You’re right. Stress in our lives is constant. It’s been around since the beginning of life as we know it, and it’s not going away any time soon. But all hope isn’t lost!
There are a few important things to be aware of when it comes to stress and your health. First, stress has the power to destroy your health and well-being if not dealt with properly. Second, a few tweaks to your nutrition can help you deal with the stress in a much better way. As a bonus, this will start to bring balance back to your body’s systems, restore your energy and even help you to have greater mental clarity.
As your daily stress load depletes your energy stores, the food you eat has the power to restore them. This gets tricky because the foods you choose can make or break the entire system. If you reach for stimulant foods like sugar and caffeine, they will pick up your energy. Your brain knows these are quick energy. The problem is that an hour or two later, you’ll be back dragging yourself around and craving more sugar and caffeine. This endless cycle finishes with you falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day.
Even if you’re already making healthier choices, you may still find yourself dealing with constant cravings and feeling the negative effects of stress on your body.
For example, I had a client who was under a tremendous amount of stress at home and work. She was suffering from constant, intense chocolate cravings. And when she wasn’t satisfying her cravings, you didn’t want to be around. She powered through her days by eating walnuts. This helped for a while but didn’t eliminate her cravings. In the end, they came back stronger than ever.
Here’s the problem: Walnuts were not the right fuel to restore balance to a stressed-out, energy-depleted body. Instead, she needed to build support for her body with whole food nutrients. By layering carbohydrates, proteins, fats, textures and flavors, she was able to have more energy without feeling like she was battling cravings every step of the way. A bowl with fresh berries, topped with walnuts and dark chocolate or cacao nibs did a great job and refueled her energy drain.
This snack gave her everything she needed to handle her stress and have more energy, and she still got the chocolate she was desiring. However, her success came from more than the snack itself. She was eating three well-balanced meals per day, which is critical to restoring balance to your body.
If you have an intimate relationship with your coffee, espresso, chocolate, sugary drinks or nighttime ice cream feasts, it might be worth looking at your stress level, how you’re eating and how you’re feeling. You’ll find that eating three balanced meals per day and finding well-balanced treats will help you to restore your body’s balance, better handle stress, and live a life where you feel great and have energy to do the things you love.
Fran Sutherlin, RD, MS is a local registered dietitian, digestive health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition. She can be reached at 444-2122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.