Being under stress can sabotage even the best laid diet plans. Unfortunately many people cope with the effects of stress by overeating, or they lose the motivation to prepare healthy and nutritious meals. In fact, stress and eating are unfortunately kissing cousins, as we say in the south.
The amount of stress experienced in peoples’ lives is on the increase so this problem will only get worse. However, there are ways of managing stress levels and sticking to your healthy eating plan; we will explore a few of them here.
Plan your meals in advance. People under stress can feel as though they lack time and energy to prepare meals when they get home and so tend to rely on take outs or high calorie snacks. Choose a day in the week when things are relatively calm, such as a weekend day, and plan in your meals for the next week. Go shopping for the ingredients you need so that you will have these to hand each day. Try batch cooking healthy dishes and freezing extra portions. You will only have to heat them up for a quick nutritious meal.
Make sure you eat a healthy diet which includes plenty of fruit and vegetables, as well as all of the major food groups. If you are receiving an adequate intake of the vital nutrients your body needs you will feel so much healthier. Certain foods, such as avocados and oatmeal, and proteins such as tuna, turkey and chicken can help reduce blood pressure. Make sure you drink plenty of water as dehydration can cause headaches and fatigue which won’t help your stress levels.
Avoid skipping meals, however busy you are, as this will cause a drop in your blood sugar levels which can leave you feeling irritable and less able to cope with stress in your life. Ideally you should aim to eat a healthy snack or meal every three to four hours to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Make time for regular exercise. If you are stressed, the last thing you might feel like doing is turning out to the gym or going for a run, but exercise is one of the best stress busters of all as it releases ‘feel good’ hormones known as endorphins which combat stress and promote a sense of well being. If you really hate going to the gym and can’t stand the thought of running, find an exercise you do enjoy as you will be more likely to want to do it. Exercise will also help you burn more calories and tone up, so you get a double bonus.
If you find you are regularly eating at your desk or ‘on the run’ then take a proper meal break. Leave your desk and sit some place else to eat, or better still, leave the building and go for a walk. Take a complete break from your work and give yourself time to digest lunch properly. This will help avoid indigestion and you will also return to work feeling much calmer and more refreshed.
You can manage stress a lot more effectively by making time to look after yourself. Follow these ideas and you should soon start to feel your stress vanishing along with your extra pounds. The connection between stress and eating – rather, overeating – can be dissolved.