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Stress and Nutrition: The Link Between Stress and Nutrition Deficiencies

How Does Stress Affect Your Nutrition?


Updated October 01, 2013

Stress and Nutrition: The Link Between Stress and Nutrition Deficiencies

Stress and Nutrition: Consuming too much caffeine can lead to even more stress! ©iStockphoto.com

Stress and Nutrition: Stress can be a problem in itself, of course. But stress can sometimes lead to unhealthy lifestyle patterns—which lead to more stress! For example, when we’re harried and under stress, we tend to make poor food choices. Unfortunately, these food choices can create more stress in the long run, as well as other problems. As you read the following ways in which stress can affect our nutritional choices, ask yourself this: when feeling overwhelmed, have you found yourself doing any of the following?

  • Drinking Too Much Coffee: When burning the candle at both ends, people often find themselves using coffee drinks to jump-start themselves in the morning, and a pattern of all-day coffee drinking often ensues.

  • Eating The Wrong Foods: Due partially to increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, stressed people tend to crave foods high in fat, sugar and salt. Think about it: how often have you turned to your good friends Ben & Jerry after a long, stressful day?

  • Skipping Meals: Another thing overly stressed people tend to do is skip meals. Have you ever found yourself rushing out of the house without a healthy breakfast (picking up a latte doesn’t count!), or realizing you’re starving in the late afternoon because you didn’t eat enough?

  • Mindless Munching: Conversely, stress also makes us prone to emotional eating, when we eat when we aren’t hungry, or eat foods that are bad for us. Have you found yourself mindless snacking on junk food, or eating when you aren’t hungry, because of stress?

  • Forgetting Water: With busy lives, it’s easy to forget to drink your water, In fact, a good portion of Americans drink no water, and get water only from soda or coffee. Do you get a full eight glasses per day, or even four?

  • Fast Food: People these days eat at home less than in generations past, as it’s easier to just drive through a fast food place or go to a restaurant than to go home and cook something. Unfortunately, this gets expensive, and is often unhealthy.

  • Crash Diets: Because of weight gain from stress, some people intentionally eat less food than they need, or try dangerous fad diets in order to lose the excess weight. Diets that aren’t balanced with fruits and vegetables, protein and healthy carbohydrates can often be bad for your health in the long run, even if they look attractive short term.

These unhealthy habits can affect our bodies in many ways. The following are only some of them:

  • Blood Sugar Imbalances: When we don’t eat enough food, or don’t eat healthy enough food (too little protein and healthy carbohydrates, too much sugar, etc.) we can experience blood sugar fluctuations. These fluctuations can lead to mood swings, fatigue, poor concentration and other negative consequences in the short term, and greater health problems like hyperglycemia in the long run.

  • Caffeine Side Effects: Too much caffeine can lead to poor concentration and decreasef effectiveness, sleep disturbances, and increased levels of cortisol in the blood, as well as other negative effects.

  • Poor Health Outcomes: Poor nutrition can also lead to lowered immunity so you’re more susceptible to illnesses, both minor and major. As you can imagine, this can lead to other problems, including increased stress levels.

There are several things you can do to make healthy food choices. Here’s a list of 10 ways to insure better nutrition that can work for even the busiest people. Try some or all of them, and you should find yourself feeling healthy, more productive, and—best of all—less stressed!

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