The reality is stress is unavoidable for so many of us. Stress can creep up when you are least expecting it: unwanted bills, late nights at the office, sick kids, relationship problems. The list goes on forever. Often, so many of us are so stressed that we don’t even tell ourselves, “Wow, I’m really stressed today.” Instead, it is so easy to act out stress by overeating and gaining weight, feeling depressed and overwhelmed, and coming down with more colds and illnesses than ever. Awareness and good eating choices helps to protect our health and take good care of our bodies and minds.
Exercise, breathing, yoga, and meditation are each tried and true remedies for stress reduction. Research even states that laughing at a good joke can lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone in the blood. The biggest friend we have in keeping our stress levels manageable, however, is our diet. Yes, it always gets back to “we are what we eat,” but it is so true. It is a great idea to re-examine the food choices some of us make and look at those foods that reduce the stress in our bodies and those that actually aggravate stress.
Ditch the Processed, On-the-Go Foods that Make you Feel Worse
Chronic stress can cause us to overeat processed foods such as canned soups and frozen dinners that are excessively loaded with ingredients such as sugar, sodium, preservatives, and saturated fats. Why eat a diet that makes you feel worse, when you can make better choices to actually protect yourself from the onslaught of stress?
Often, the first thing we tend to do when we feel ‘stressed out’ is run for the coffee, soft drink, energy drink, or high-carbohydrate snack. These are the very addictive substances that cause our insulin levels to spike giving us a rush of energy and coping power, only to soon crash, leaving us drained and feeling weaker and needing the boost all over again; thus continuing the negative cycle of junk food eating.
Adopt a Lifestyle of Eating Whole, Clean, Fresh, Natural Foods.
There is one simple solution to becoming another victim of daily stress. Make a commitment to eating whole, natural food. Healthy eating is not so much a diet, but a lifestyle option that will keep you less stressed and healthier, overall. Clean, unprocessed foods such as fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds are a good place to begin. When eating a nutrient-dense diet, you never need to count calories or memorize daily menu plans. It is a lifestyle of eating foods that are unprocessed, freshly grown, and full of live enzymes to nourish your body.
It’s easy to begin. Focus on those foods that grow naturally and do not have a long list of ingredients. Stock your kitchen with fresh greens, nuts, avocados, oatmeal, and herbal teas. Yes, reduce or completely eliminate sugars and caffeine. Start by making fresh salads and colorful vegetable dishes the main focus of your meals.
Incorporate healthy protein options such as wild-caught salmon, a great source of omega 3 fatty acids that nourishes your brain and stabilizes your blood sugar levels. If you’re on the go and need the quick pick-me-up snack, grab fresh nuts and seeds. Almonds and raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds are great stress relievers. Both contain high levels of magnesium known to combat stress.
So the next time you are driving a car packed full of kids with the neighbor’s dog in the back seat and you desperately brake for a squirrel shooting across the road; reach for some fresh water, almonds, and breathe. You will recover from the stress much faster than if you fall back on the usual unhealthy, sugary, caffeinated fix.