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How Stress Can Ruin Your Diet

Stress can seriously hamper your ability to lose weight. 

What is Stress?

Stress is a physical response to triggers like major upheavals or traumatic events, excessive workloads/tight deadlines. Or even comparatively minor things like misplacing your mobile phone or key, for example.

When stress ‘kicks in’, your body assumes you are under attack and immediately switches to its’ fight-or-flight’ mode to prepare itself for physical action.

Involving the release of a complex cocktail of chemicals and hormones including adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol, this ‘switch’ causes several reactions:

  • A rush of energy
  • Diversion of blood to your muscles
  • Shutting down of digestion and other bodily functions unnecessary for the ‘fight-or-flight’ response

Increasing your heartbeat and breathing rate while boosting your energy, this switch enables you to focus your attention and respond quickly to the situation at hand.

How Stress Can Ruin Your Diet

After stressful events, the levels of cortisol in your blood tends to stay quite high for some time, effectively stimulating your appetite and urging your body to refuel an ‘stock up’ on fatty foods and carbohydrates. People living stressful lives subsequently frequently feel constantly hungry and make poor food choices.

While this was perfect for cavemen having to either fight or flee from dangerous animals, modern man rarely needs to engage in this kind of activity.

The subsequently unused extra glucose and fats within your system are simply deposited as fat (typically around the belly where, being close to your liver, it can be quickly converted into energy again as & when required).

Combatting the Effects of Stress

The obvious answer to stopping stress ruining your diet is to reduce it as much as possible (find tips on keeping stress at bay at www.stress.org.uk).

Eat regularly (breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack and dinner, preferably with no more than 3 hours between each meal/snack) and avoid carbohydrates after 6 PM to keep your energy & blood sugar levels stable and prevent your body craving ‘quick fixes’ also helps, as does eating:

  • Asparagus – provides folic acid which helps combat depression
  • Avocado – rich in monounsaturated fat and Vitamin B, the latter of which is essential for healthy brain cells and nerves and may help alleviate anxiety.
  • Blueberries – are packed with antioxidants & Vitamin C which is especially important in the protection and repair of cells during stressful times.
  • Spinach helps regulate cortisol levels due to its high magnesium content.
  • Oily fish (i.e. salmon, trout, sardines) which can assist in the reduction of depression.
  • Chicken, beans & pulses and seafood – rich sources of Tryptophan, an amino acid that produces the so-called ‘happy hormone’ serotonin and may subsequently help fight depression.

    Food for stress
    Foods to combat stress

Drinking nerve-calming camomile tea or milk (the lactium in milk calms you by lowering your blood pressure, while its potassium content helps relieve muscle aches) before going to bed promotes good sleep and therefore also helps reduce stress.

milk for stress
Milk contains potassium which can help sleep

Trying to Lose Weight

Not losing as much weight as you wish as quickly as you want can cause you a great deal of stress. Avoid this kind of stress by adding formoline L112 to your diet routine. Learn more.

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