reactions to such a stressful time are highly individual,
but when it comes to diet and health, the consequences of
stress is often uncontrolled eating or poor eating habits,
which of course leads to weight gain, and can lead to a
cycle of depression and poor health. This is true whether
the source of stress is from a major life changing event, or
is the result of a build-up of personal events. For those of
you who tend to react to stress by eating more, it's very
good to focus on some positive reactions that won't
lead to a cycle of unwanted weight gain.
If you're going through a tough time, whether it's your
job, personal relationships, or the state of the world, if
your reaction is to use food for comfort, it's time to get a
diet plan that helps you get some control back into your life. If
life is hectic, chances are you don't take much time to plan
regular meals, you miss getting a good amount of sleep, and
your energy level is low. All of this makes it very easy to
just eat whatever is available and quick - poor food
choices, high calorie snacks, fast food! While you may not
have much control over the events that cause you stress, you
have a lot of control over your reactions to them, including
how much, and what you choose to eat.
times like these, it's really important to build some
structure into your eating habits. Some strategies that
limit your choices of food and your opportunity to eat can
really help when you don't have the time or mindset to
think. Here's a few rules to help you keep it simple:
1. Try not
to skip meals - eat at least three meals a day, with a
few simple snacks. Although it may seem like a good idea to
eat less often to lose weight, skipping meals too often and
eating too little food actually stresses your body and mind
more and reduces your energy when you need it most. Eating
regular meals can help reduce the temptation to snack on
junk foods, and to eat too much at one sitting.
2. Try to
eat at the same time each day
Develop a routine
where you don't have to make too many extra decisions. Space
your meals and snacks out about every three or four hours.
If you haven't overeaten at the last meal, you will likely
be hungry within about four hours. Eat smaller meals and
snacks more often.
eating from other things.
If you have a hectic
schedule or stress makes you feel hurried, you will be
tempted to eat while doing other things like driving,
working, walking, etc. This can lead to overeating simply
because you don't realize how much you've eaten because of
the distractions. While this is always a very important
habit that leads to healthy body weight, it is even more
important if you are under a lot of stress. Hectic meals can
lead to poor digestion, poor food choices, and feeling bad -
which means more stress! "I don't have time to eat" is not
an excuse - you have to make time to eat right or you won't
have the energy to do whatever else is important to you!
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stressful time may be a good time to eat in a very
structured way - so buy healthy convenient meals. Read the labels and follow the
guidelines and rules for making the best choices when it
comes to packaged foods. Some of these choices are really
quite healthy, and they have the added benefit of being a
very controlled amount of food, reducing the chance that
5. Take a
While I am not a huge fan of
supplemental foods and prefer that people get good nutrition
through good foods, taking a
multivitamin with adequate levels of Vitamins B and C,
calcium, and zinc is not a bad idea, especially during
stressful times, and especially if you're trying to reduce
your calorie intake to lose weight.
Exercise & Dieting
I can't say enough about the positive effects of making sure
that some physical activity is part of your daily routine.
This is especially true if you feel particularly "stressed
out". The short term effects of exercise actually increase
the body's stress level - increased heart rate, increased
need for fuel, stress on muscles and joints, increased blood
pressure. But the opposite is true in the long term. People
who exercise regularly typically have lower resting heart
rates, better blood pressure, and a higher degree of fitness
that helps their body cope with stressful events. "I don't
have time for exercise" is no excuse.
have pain during exercise, you may be overdoing it. Check
with your doctor if these things happen, you may need to
adjust your routine.
If you're not
exercising now, build in just a few minutes every couple
hours to get up, take a short walk, stretch, climb a few
stairs, or do some simple calisthenics. Even a small amount
of activity can help.
Build up to
longer chunks of time and vary your activities, doing things
that you enjoy.
When you have
time off, try to plan some active events - hiking, skating,
walking on the beach, tennis, golf - whatever you
enjoy that will increase your body's movement.
And of course,
when you exercise, you're burning off that stress and
reducing the stress hormones that build up when things get
tense. Get rid of it!
A word about
overdoing it -
I have heard from a lot of people who
have included a lot of exercise into their daily routine in
an effort to lose weight. Combined with reducing calories,
there is that point where exercise and cutting down on food
is counterproductive to health goals and can lead to more
stress. If you're often very tired, have trouble sleeping,
are losing weight very