Healthy eating under stress
Life can be stressful. Even though stress can sometimes motivate us, often it can make us feel tired, depressed and even sick. Our hectic lives can also keep us from eating healthfully. But doing so can help boost our immune system, increase our energy and improve our ability to function during hectic times.A diet rich in orange and dark-green vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean meats and alternatives and lower-fat dairy products will provide you with all the vitamins and minerals (such as stress-fighting B-vitamins, vitamin C and iron) your body needs, especially under stress. Here are some tips to eating healthy even when you’re at your busiest.
Eat breakfast Do you ever find yourself rushed in the mornings and run out the door without breakfast? When you don’t eat enough food, your body struggles to function properly and blood sugar fluctuates. These fluctuations can make you feel tired, irritable and affect your concentration. Grab a hard-boiled egg, whole-grain crackers (look for products with 0 trans fats) and an apple or orange on your way to work. Or try our breakfast cookie. Have it with 100% fruit juice.
Make mealtime a chance to relax Take the time (and it doesn’t have to be long) to sit down and chew your food slowly and enjoy its taste. This quiet time may even help you cope with whatever stress you may be feeling. Choose foods that are lower in fat, salt and sugar. We often crave unhealthy foods to soothe our ruffled emotions. If you’re in need of some comfort food, try our heart-healthy Cheesy mushroom and asparagus bake (instead of high-fat mac ‘n’ cheese).
Brown-bag it Instead of grabbing unhealthy food choices at fast food restaurants or coffee shops, take a few minutes the night before to pack a lunch. This may not save you time, but it will save you money and will help you eat healthier when you’re out. Try packing up leftovers. Make extra pasta for quick lunches, toss together any vegetables you have in the fridge with some salad dressing and bring along some slices of lower-fat cheese and crackers (look for products with 0 trans fat). Or try our quick and easy Curry chicken pita.
Snack healthy Keep healthy snacks such as trail mix, vegetable sticks, fruit fresh or canned (in natural juice) at the office, in your car or purse for times when you are really hungry or find yourself needing to snack. For those afternoon pick-me-ups, instead of grabbing a trans-fat laden doughnut try single-serve cottage cheese with fruit or a low-sodium vegetable juice. Or try our Crunchy fruit and nut salad.
Slow the caffeine drip Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, colas, chocolate and some medications like pain relievers. Too much caffeine can cause headaches, irritability and difficulty sleeping. Cutting down on how much coffee and cola beverages you drink may help you feel calmer when under stress. Limit yourself to three, 8 oz cups (250 mL) of brewed coffee a day. Enjoy other beverages such as water with a twist of lemon, decaffeinated tea or a mix of sparkling water and 100% fruit juice.
Try some TLC Food is not the only way you can take care of yourself. Listen to calming classical music, learn how to do yoga or meditate, or simply take a brisk walk around the block to improve your mood.
Although life can be stressful, eating right will help you feel healthy, be more productive and hopefully less stressed.
eating healthy under stress [heartandstroke] by Alyssa Rolnick, RD