Stress is part of the human condition. Mediation and healthy exercise are good ways to deal with stress, but you may also want to pay attention to your diet. Plan to avoid those foods that actually feed the release of more stress hormones.
Stress stimulates the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which alert your body to restock energy supplies – whether you need to or not. That signal causes you to feel hungry, to eat more frequently and in greater quantities. Additionally, cortisol encourages fat storage. Under stress, you may exercise less and make poor food choices. The outcome can be rapid weight gain, and even serious health repercussions over time.
Here are some stress-stimulating foods you may want to avoid:
1. Anything billed as an energy or coffee drink – If you’re stressed the last thing your body and brain need is caffeine and/or high fructose corn syrup. Red Bull or a giant latte might give you a quick pick-me-up, but they are likely to trigger a sugar crash that will leave you agitated and exhausted. Later, you may have trouble sleeping.
2. Sweet stuff and baked goods – That cookie jar may be full of comfort food, but the temporary gratification comes at a cost of insulin resistance and weight gain. Unhealthy food and stress hormones are a recipe for weight gain. They also feed the bad bacteria in your intestinal tract, causing more cravings, belly aches, and depression.
3. Processed foods – There are many reasons to avoid processed foods, but you may not realize they raise your level of stress hormones. They contain bad fats, chemicals, and factory-farmed ingredients, with few nutrients. They also have cortisol-boosting sodium and sugar. Chips and pretzels are prime examples.
4. Alcohol – When you’ve had a stressful day, a cold beer or cocktail may sound like just what the doctor ordered. But alcohol is actually counterproductive for managing stress, because it stimulates the release of more stress hormones. It can also depress your mood.
Instead of the food and drinks above, try a cup of tea for antioxidants. Green juice, a bowl of berries, or a delicious salad are also good. Tuna and salmon are proven to reduce stress hormones. Try apples slices with almond butter for a sweet treat, or a square of dark chocolate.