Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, disorders can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. Stress is a normal human reaction that happens to everyone. In fact, the human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. When you experience changes or challenges (stressors), your body produces physical and mental responses. That’s stress.
Stress responses help your body adjust to new situations. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert, motivated and ready to avoid danger. For example, if you have an important test coming up, a stress response might help your body work harder and stay awake longer. But stress becomes a problem when stressors continue without relief or periods of relaxation. “Eating a healthy diet can reduce the negative effects of stress on your body,” said Matthew J. Kuchan, Ph. D., a senior research scientist at Abbott. “A healthy diet builds a solid, more enduring foundation for your body by reducing oxidation and inflammation and by helping to reduce weight gain.”
Enjoy complex carbohydrates.
Have oatmeal, raisin bran and other whole-grain cereals and breads, as well as brown rice, whole-grain pasta, vegetables, beans, fruits, and nonfat milk. These complex carbohydrates help your brain make the feel-good chemical serotonin, which counteracts disorders, says Thayer.
Eating Healthfully During Stressful Times
Emotional Eating and Stress Eating
When you feel tense, eating or emotional eating seem to be triggered like an automatic response. That’s especially so if your body reacts strongly to disturbance-released hormones. A 2010 study from the University of Michigan showed that when levels of the stress hormone cortisol, were boosted in healthy, non-stressed adults, they ate more snack foods.
Healthy Food Options
Indeed, stress may increase your desire for doughnuts, ice cream, and other high-fat or sugary foods. You also are likely to eat fewer regular meals and fewer vegetables. That may be why you grab a handful of cookies during stressful moments instead of healthy snacks such as baby carrots or a few almonds. Not surprising, then, that Disease eaters gain weight more often than those who aren’t .
Build a good nutritional foundation. Prepare your brain and body in advance and you’ll be better able to handle complications when it happens. To keep your emotions in balance, eat regularly during the day, every four or five hours.
10 Foods to reduce stress
- Recognize what’s happening. When stressful events or thoughts trigger the urge to eat, stop and evaluate first. Are you hungry or not? Rate your hunger on a scale from 1 to 10. Ask yourself when was the last time you ate, to see if your body needs food right now. “Often, negative emotions trigger what feels like hunger but is really just a habitual response to eat to get rid of negative feelings,” says Elissa S. Epel, PhD, associate professor of psychairtry at the University of California, San Francisco, and a researcher on stress and eating.
- Try a little mindfulness. Derail your automatic trip to the cookie jar by becoming more aware of your eating patterns. Mindful eating encourages you to use your senses to choose foods that please you and are nourishing to your body. Pay attention to the physical cues of fullness or hunger that your body sends. Use these to make decisions about when to begin eating and when to stop.
- Have a plan b… and C. The stress-eating urge usually hits suddenly, so keep healthy snacks with you wherever you go. Try small packets of nuts or trail mix (without added sweets or salt), apples, or bananas. Those better options will help you bypass high-calorie comfort. When possible, Kleiner advises eating protein and complex carbohydrates together, such as cheese with a slice of whole-grain bread.