For many of us, stress and eating go hand in hand.
Sure, there are the rare few who forget to eat when they get stressed out, but the majority of people tend to turn food during times of stress to help them feel more in control.
Both situations, ‘stress eating’ and ‘stress starving’, are usually pretty undesirable.
If you are a stress eater, you probably wish you were the type of person who forgot to eat when you are stressed out.
But ask those folks how they feel about forgetting to eat when they’re stressed and they will tell you they hate it!
Forgetting to eat throughout the day has its own consequences like blood sugar drops which inevitably leads to a poor mood (aka “hangry”).
No one wants that. Not the person who's grouchy, and not anyone around them either.
Eating, or not eating, during a stressful time is not always a bad thing.
For example, when you eat certain foods, your body can release serotonin, the happy hormone, which can help you temporarily feel better. On the flip side, when you are stressed out, your digestive system is not functioning at optimal capacity, so skipping a meal isn’t horrible either.
But in both cases, moderation is key. And the only way you are going to be able to moderate these behaviors is if the stress is reduced or eliminated.
Well...easier said than done, especially over the last 3 months!
2020 seems to be turning into the year of chronic stress. If it’s not a global pandemic driving us into total seclusion, it’s unacceptable human behavior driving people into self reflection on their own behavior and that of those around them.
For the last 3 months, people have been under non-stop stress to some degree or another and it’s taking a toll on our health. Since some of these stressors are out of our control, it’s time we looked at how we can use nutrition to mitigate the damage until we start to see some change.
STRESS MANAGEMENT THROUGH NUTRITION
I had the honor of being a guest on “A Little Dabble Do You” with Sara Cory and Heather Daenitz last week.
Sara & Heather are sisters that have always been dabblers; pursuing whatever diversion tickles their fancy. They have an Instagram show called A Little Dabble Do You, where they encourage their followers to pursue their interests by sharing their own with love and enthusiasm.
In every episode, they give you tips on how to get started with whatever they’re discussing, which in my case, was stress management through nutrition.
And since we can ALL use a little help in that department, today I want to share those tips with you!
TIP #1 ADD UNREFINED SEA SALT TO YOUR WATER
When your body is under stress, your body will divert most available nutrients to the production of cortisol, our body’s main stress management hormone.
Without getting TOO deep into the biology, cortisol shares a pathway with a hormone called aldosterone. Aldosterone controls our sodium balance in the kidneys.
When we are stressed, aldosterone is depleted in order for cortisol to be produced. This can leave you craving french fries and potato chips, when really what your body is trying to tell you is it needs more sodium.
Instead of spending your day eating deep fried salty treats (which is okay SOMETIMES), try adding a small pinch of unrefined sea salt to your water instead.
A small pinch can go a long way! You shouldn’t feel like you’re tasting the ocean!
Speaking of cravings and nutrient depletion, did you download my FREE food cravings chart! It’ll help you understand what your body is REALLY asking for so you can start filling up on real food and possibly stop the cravings all together!
TIP #2 - PRIORITIZE YOUR SLEEP!
During things like global pandemics or even just everyday life, stress is non-stop. From the moment you open your eyes, until you go to bed, you are worried, busy, multitasking, planning, changing plans and just non-stop go, go, go.
That means that sleep is the only time we give our bodies to restore...and boy do we need it!
Think of sleep as putting money into your bank account, while being awake and on the go is taking money out. You need to stay in a positive balance or else you’ll start to run into problems.
To help you with this, here are 2 things you can start doing immediately:
TIP #3 - ELIMINATE ANY KNOWN FOOD INTOLERANCES, ALONG WITH GLUTEN AND DAIRY.
As I mentioned earlier, your digestive system doesn’t work so great when you are stressed.
We need to move out of our “fight or flight” nervous system and into our “rest and digest” nervous system to properly digest our foods.
Since this can be a challenge for some people to manage during times like these, you can work hard to avoid the foods that we know are harder to digest.
Both gluten and dairy are very long proteins in our food system. In order to digest them completely, we need our digestive system to be on it’s “A” game, and that is certainly not during times of stress.
So whether you have a gluten or dairy intolerance or not, it’s wise to limit or completely avoid these foods when you’re stressed out.
TIP #4 - AVOID “NAKED” FOODS AND PRIORITIZE NUTRIENT DENSE FOODS.
“Naked” foods are foods that have been highly processed and are void of their natural micronutrients.
These foods can fill you up, but oftentimes leave your body craving more foods.
Why? Because your body needs those micronutrients in order to stay healthy. So if you find yourself craving all sorts of foods in times of stress, it’s probably because you’re deficient in certain micronutrients.
Luckily, I have a FREE FOOD CRAVINGS CHART available for download where you can see which nutrients you likely need when you are craving certain foods.
Generally speaking, eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, healthy wild or pasture raised proteins whenever possible, and using natural fats from things like avocados, coconuts, nuts and seeds can all help you fill your body with the micronutrients you need to be healthy!
DARK CHERRY FROZEN YOGURT RECIPE
The recipe below can help you with Tips #2,3, & 4! Plus, it’s delicious which means you’ll enjoy a hit of endorphins to help your body feel good!
Tiana Rockwell is a certified nutritional therapist, avid endurance athlete and dark chocolate lover. She believes that by eating REAL food, we can balance our body and reach optimal health and wellness!