Beat Stress Through Better Nutrition
For better or worse, stress has become a part of most of our daily lives — whether it’s rushing to meet deadlines, pick up kids or get ready for the holidays. We have too much to do and too little time to do it.
For many of us, food and beverages have become the quick, but often not-so-healthy, fix. Too many times we reach for another cup of coffee or handful of chocolates-or skip eating altogether instead of making good nutrition choices to help us feel better.
Healthy Tips to Reduce Stress
Eating smart helps provide the energy, strength, and vitality needed for everyday challenges. Make these guidelines part of your daily routine and you’ll quickly notice some positive changes.
- Eat breakfast. Your body functions more efficiently when nutrients are readily available within a few hours of waking. For the diet conscious, studies show that eating breakfast actually helps to control weight. Choose foods with protein, healthy fat and complex carbohydrates that will jump-start your brain and help keep you fueled through the morning such as an egg and whole grain toast, cereal with milk or yogurt with granola and fruit.
- Set a meal schedule and sit down to eat. Meal skipping can lead to low blood sugar, which can cloud your ability to focus and think clearly. If you’re diabetic, low blood sugar can be extremely dangerous. Carry healthy snacks, such as a granola or energy bar, with you to head off fatigue and drops in blood sugar. Take time to enjoy your food — eating in your car or at your desk doesn't count. Meal time should be a way to relax, not a practice in multi-tasking.
- Eat fruits and veggies. These foods are healthy, natural sources of antioxidants, protective nutrients and fiber. Although you can drink them in juice or smoothie form, the very act of chewing can be a stress reliever.
- Eliminate the sugary, fatty snacks. Stop stocking your home or desk with candy, cookies and other unhealthy snacks. It’s easier to avoid them if they’re not available. Keep a supply of healthy snacks, like nuts, seeds, vegetable stick and popcorn, within reach for healthy munching.
- Feeling jumpy? Cut down on caffeine. For many, caffeine in the morning is a necessity but you can overload. Substituting a caffeinated beverage for a meal “starves” your body for nutrients and makes you feel more stressed. Limit yourself to one or two cups of coffee, then switch to decaffeinated or opt for decaffeinated green tea. Avoid caffeine after 2 pm so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep. Many sodas are loaded with caffeine and calories. If you’re a soda drinker, switch to water, soda water with a squeeze of lemon or lime, or sparkling juice. Remember, caffeine actually saps water from your body and can cause dehydration.
- Exercise. When stress is building, take a walk, turn on the music and dance, or do some simple stretching exercises. Even rolling your shoulders gently, using stretch bands, or lifting your legs while you sit in your desk chair can offer relief. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity everyday as part of a healthy lifestyle.
- Get a checkup. If you consistently feel exhausted, make an appointment with your doctor. You may be deficient in critical nutrients like B-12, iron, calcium or Vitamin D. A registered dietitian or nutrition coach can help you determine your nutritional needs.
If you have a question about this article or would like to learn more about nutrition classes and tastings at Giant Eagle® stores, send an e-mail to email@example.com.