How Your Diet Affects Your Stress Level
Let’s face it, we have our work cut out for us when it comes to stress management. Pandemics, politics, climate change, feeling time crunched, processed food, pollution, lack of sleep…good grief! We are dealing with chronic stress and its health implications at new all-time high levels.
And your diet is a big one!
The phrase “You are what you eat” applies to your stress levels…What you eat affects your stress hormones.
Before we talk about stress any further, I am including a cute puppy picture for you to enjoy so that all this stress talk doesn’t stress you out!
While cortisol is the most famous stress hormone, typically released in higher amounts when you are in the fight-or-flight response, insulin is also involved in the stress response. You see, when you get stressed by something, your cortisol and some other stress hormones (i.e. adrenaline, norepinephrine, catecholamines) go up. One of the effects on your body when these hormones are released is for your blood sugar to go up (to give you energy to fight or flee)…and when blood sugar goes up, insulin goes up too.
This is a crucial point for any of you who are eating a healthy diet yet dealing with blood sugar imbalance, weight imbalance, high blood pressure, or energy imbalance. Independently from your diet, your stress response raises your blood sugar!
So it becomes even more important that your diet not become a source of stress.
Tip #1: If you are used to eating a diet that is high in sugar, it’s time to cut back on it. A high-sugar diet is associated with brain fog, low or inconsistent energy, fat storage around your organs, memory loss, and an increased risk in dementia. An increased blood sugar level increases the chance for insulin resistance, meaning, it will take a longer time before we can utilize the glucose/energy you take from the food you eat.
Tip #2. Eat when you are actually hungry and not out of habit.
Snacking bumps up your insulin level. Remember that insulin affects all your other stress hormones. So the more you snack, the more insulin increases and too much of this pattern increases insulin resistance (a cell desensitization to the impact of insulin). High insulin and insulin resistance wreaks havoc in your entire body, affecting your mood, gut health, immune system, and stress levels.
Depending on your particular situation, you might try practicing intermittent fasting, in which you go without food for a slightly longer time period (12-16 hrs, including overnight sleep time). This gives ample time for your body to use ketones, instead of glucose, as fuel; helps restore healthy insulin levels, and increases cell repair.
Tip #3. Choose high quality food. Foods grown with artificial fertilizers and loaded with pesticides contain toxins that disrupt your hormonal balance. Meat coming from animals that have eaten toxic food also plays a role in disrupting your hormonal system. So opt for the cleanest, best quality food you can as often as possible.
Tip #4. Make meal time pleasant and calm…and choose good company. No matter how appetizing or healthy your food is, when you eat with people who stress you out or talk about stressful things while eating, it becomes a lot harder to keep your own stress level down. So make sure that you eat with the people you care about and try to discuss things that help you feel happy and safe.
I hope these tips are helpful to you! Want to learn even more? Join me next week for my free online class Stress & Digestion: How Stress is Wrecking Your Digestion and What You Can Do About It! (register here).
It is my passion to work with people like you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).
Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!