Did you know that your diet directly correlates to your stress levels, and what you choose to eat might actually be making your stress worse? Certain types of foods can increase your stress, making your day-to-day harder than it needs to be. We’re not just talking about stress eating or a lack in nutrients, but realizing that wha you are putting into your body is actually causing and/or exacerbating your stress level. Here are 3 areas to focus on eliminating, in order to combat your stress:
Sugar is Enemy #1 when it comes to stress. Sugar tends to have a negative impact on our body’s overall physical health, causing bloating and weight gain, and making mental conditions like anxiety worse. We’ve likely all experienced a sugar crash that happens shortly after having a high amount of sugar in a short amount of time; everything from headaches, chest pain, foggy mind, irritability, and other symptoms wreak havoc on our our body and cause even more stress. Keep in mind this doesn’t just apply to candies and sweets; we can also experience a sugar crash after eating too many simple carbs like bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes.
Some simple ways to lower your sugar intake include:
- eliminating refined white sugar from your diet and opting for natural sugars whenever possible, such as pure maple syrup, pure stevia leaf drops, dates, and organic honey
- adding low-carb pastas to your pantry, such as egg noodles, spiralled veggies or spaghetti squash, or specialty pastas like Konnayaku
- instead of reaching for a treat that contains refined sugars and zaps your health, try reaching for fresh fruits which contain natural sugars and add plenty of healthy fiber to your diet
Highly fatty foods are often trigger foods for anxiety, which also makes your stress more severe. Healthy fats like avocados and olive oil are of course a great option in moderation, however you will want to avoid saturated fats like vegetable oil, lard, and pretty much all fried foods. Packaged and processed foods are usually very high in fat (and/or sodium), so it would be beneficial to cut these items from your diet along with fried foods in order to combat your stress.
Easy ways to switch from fatty foods to healthier versions include:
- opting to bake or air fry foods whenever possible – instead of frying potatoes for example, toss them with some healthy extra-virgin olive oil and bake in the oven, or spritz them with some grapeseed oil and add to your air fryer for 10 minutes. The results are usually the same crispy potatoes/fries but without all the extra fat intake
- if you are cooking or baking and a recipe calls for butter, make sure you have some quality organic butter or ghee on hand, and skip the processed margarine options
This is a big one for most people. Caffeine is a major cause of stress, especially for those of us who drink soda regularly or have more than one cup of coffee every day. Even though you may think having a coffee helps to shake out the cobwebs every morning, it may actually be doing the complete opposite and draining you of your energy for a short-term buzz. Reducing your caffeine intake can do wonders to eliminate brain fog long term. Too much caffeine also messes with your natural circadian rhythms – such as when you use the washroom, and how well/long you sleep.
Try reducing your daily caffeine intake by exploring some of these options:
- If you drink more than 1 cup of coffee daily, try to slowly decrease your daily intake by substituting one coffee for an herbal tea or fresh fruit smoothie instead
- Avoid sugar-laden soft drinks that are also loaded with caffeine; diet versions are not better!
- When you wake in the morning, try having a full glass of water with lemon to hydrate before you have anything else
No one enjoys being stressed out; with just a few of these little tweaks and adjustments to your diet, you can add more vitality to your life instead of adding to your stress.
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