Are you Feeding your Stress?
1. Stress slows the digestive system down
When we go into the ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ stress mode our digestion slows down, causing problems such as indigestion, diarrhoea, hunger, loss of appetite, constipation or gas. Long term stress reduces nutrient absorption and increases the risk of IBS and diabetes as well as heart disease.
2. During times of stress our eating patterns change
You probably noticed people talking of ‘emotional eating’ during the Covid-19 lockdown. This was a normal stress response, it gave us a distraction, comfort and some control to combat feelings of fear, anxiety, uncertainty, loss of control, lack of safety and adapting to change. On top of this food shopping was problematic.
The stress hormone cortisol also triggers a craving for junk food (high fat and sugar) to give us a quick energy fix to prepare for ‘fight or flight’.
3. Eating & drinking to manage stress. Stabilising energy levels prevent the need for grabbing junk food, maintain energy and prevent fatigue.
- Avoid Stimulants. Caffeine, Sugar, Alcohol and Cigarettes give us an initial kick but can cause fatigue and low mood
- Eat regularly including breakfast
- Reduce Salt to prevent high blood pressure and heart problems
- Go for slow release carbohydrates. Whole grains (brown), vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts
4. Get Organised. Plan your meals, make a shopping list and keep to it.
5. Drink Water. Hunger or tiredness can be a sign of thirst or dehydration. Our brains are 80-85% water.
6. Avoid stressing about being too strict of what you eat. Don’t feed stress with more stress.
7. Brain function foods Oily fish (Sardines, tuna, salmon, pilchards, mackerel, trout), wholegrains, nuts, nuts, blueberries, blackcurrents, eggs, broccoli, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate.
8. Vitamin D. For energy and brain functioning, absorbed from sunlight.
9. Cut down on Junk food: Cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolate bars, snacks, fatty meats, cheesy snacks all have minimal nutritional value, hidden sugar, salt and bad fats.
10. Foods that fill you up: Porridge Oats, beans & pulses, none starchy vegetables, eggs, greek yogurt, salmon, nuts, Water.
11. PMS. Avoid stimulants at this time. Eat slow energy release foods and opt for healthy oils (oily fish, olive, nuts, flax seeds). Avoid Dairy/junk food fat, these stimulate the hormones that make PMS feel bad
12. Short of time? Try bulk cooking, utilising your freeze, a slow cooker, eat left overs for lunch rather than throw away. Make it a social experience, cook with your kids or have a virtual cooking night with friends during Covid restrictions
13. Beware of misleading packaging and advertising. Low fat can mean extra sugar or a smaller portion. Low sugar can mean extra fat. Some low yoghurts can be loaded with sugar. Low fat cheese can still be high in fat compared to other foods.