Leading a healthy lifestyle has long been something we have all aspired to. We are constantly told what is good for us, what is not, how much of this to eat etc etc, this in itself is stressful.
Unfortunately it’s all true and something we can’t and should not avoid in facing up to.
If we eat bad, drink too much, are over or under weight we will be affecting our long term physical health and causing ourselves more stress on a daily basis.
Stress itself depletes our bodies of important vitamins such as C and B Vitamins. A deficiency in these vitamins can also cause symptoms of anxiety and irritability.
A vicious circle of stress and anxiety is set up and become ever increasingly difficult to stop.
When we are feeling stressed we often turn to food as a way of comforting ourselves. Unfortunately this has the adverse affect of making us put on weight which adds to our low mood and feelings of guilt etc.
Comfort foods or stress relief food should definitely not be a part of a healthy lifestyle, yes you can indulge from time to time, but not on a regular basis.
The comfort foods we mainly turn to are ones which contain:
Salt – we only need about 1g of salt a day, more than this and we risk various health issues including high blood pressure.
Sugar – this gives us a quick energy boost but eaten in excess causes weight gain and tooth decay as well as overworking the adrenal glands in the long term.
Alcohol – Alcohol produces short term feeling of relaxation. But are high in calories and have no nutritional benefits at all. Drunk to excess over time will cause liver damage and obesity.
This is all the more reason to quit or cut back if one is drinking too excessively. There is no shame in checking into a treatment center for help. Sometimes it is most effective to leave one's surroundings entirely and spend time at a treatment center separated from home.
Caffeine – Drinking coffee or colas is often used through out the day as a pick me up. This is because they increase the heart rate and other various physical responses. These responses are similar to the stress response and so can produce symptoms such as palpitations, sweating and even panic if drunk in excess on a daily basis.
Although all of these are used for coping with stress as short term fix they will actually make the situation much worse in the long run. Adopting a healthy lifestyle where all these things are consumed in moderation. as well as eating stress busting foods will help to not only reduce feelings of stress but will also help to promote a healthy body, which is much better equipped for dealing with the daily pressures of life.
Ideally you want to be in a position where you do not need to diet. Why? well the overweight person is not only stressed by their physical condition but are also constantly feeling stressed about what they are eating and how much, as well the disappointment experienced along the way when they find it difficult to lose the weight. Another circle of stress occurs, overweight, diet, stress, eat comfort foods, put on weight, become stressed etc etc.
This sort of stress eating can also contribute to the build up what is known as stress fat, this is the fat that accumulates around your internal organs and associated with contributing to heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Instead of trying to follow a particular diet why not just try to eat a healthy diet, one that can be easily followed, will not feel like a diet and can be continued through out life. However if eating healthy is difficult for you to do all the time then taking a supplement is something you should consider.
A healthy lifestyle eating plan should fit into your daily life without a struggle. It’s all about thinking about food differently and finding out what your body actually needs to remain healthy and strong. Stress and nutrition do go hand in hand and need to be considered together when thinking about dieting.
Rule number one and THE most important one for leading a healthy lifestyle is ALWAYS EAT BREAKFAST.
Eat one low in fat but high in carbohydrate, such as cereal, fruit, semi skimmed milk, toast, fruit juice. In fact studies have shown that cereals help to prevent stress, depression and improve mood and memory.
(A portion = size of your fist is one portion, potatoes are not considered a vegetable for this guide line)
Wholemeal bread or pasta,
Beans, peas or lentils
Unsalted nuts or dried fruit
Low fat spread
Lean white meat
Steamed or boiled vegetables
Grill and steam food instead of frying
Non oily fish
Tea and coffee
Adding sugar to food
Adding salt to foods
A healthy lifestyle leads to a healthy body which in turn leads to a healthy mind and allows you to deal with stress much better.