Eliminating the Effect of Stress on Your Diet Plan

 What has stress got to do with diet?  You may ask.  Quite a lot!  When things start to spin out of control, other areas get the heat, which can lead to a breakdown of normalcy in your diet plan.  Be aware of the following triggers that can spoil your day and goal for healthy eating.

·         Heavy Work Load

I know when am super busy, it is easy  to throw balanced diet out the window and just reach for the most available meal at arm’s length.  Worse, I skip meals and drink endless cups of coffee.  I love my coffee, with a dash of milk, no sugar.  This gets me going when the going gets tough. The downside is that my body doesn’t get the nutrient it needs, therefore end up doing more work with less energy. Tell you what? If you must get a quick bite while still at your office desk, due to heavy workload, try to spare little time for a combination of unrefined carbohydrates and grains, vegetables or fruit, along with a modest amount of protein (dairy, meat, or beans) at least three times a day. 

It can be as easy as choosing an individual roasted chicken or grilled fish portion with green salad, or savoury bean pudding, with any fresh fruit for lunch, or having vegetable fried rice with shredded lean beef for dinner.   When you set aside time to eat meals without rushing, you taste and enjoy them. So make a quiet time along with soothing music while you eat alone, or share time with friends as you relax at mealtime.

·         The Urge to Snack 

 Wanting that extra snack and high fat comfort foods like sweet buttery biscuits, pies, pastries, cakes, ice cream, chocolates, or fried snacks are also stress related.   While snacks can be an important part of good eating, when you do decide to snack, choose healthy comfort foods, like baked potato, or handful of nuts, and make them part of the daily food allowance. Another way is to take a bite of your favourite snack to remove that craving. I know it’s difficult to take just a bit of that delicious cheese cake or moist chocolate cake, but that small portion may give you the flavour you crave without added fat and calories.    You can also try to decide whether it is the taste of a particular food you want or perhaps non-food forms of comfort will meet your needs, like exercising, sleeping, reading, or watching television. 

Unfortunately, stress related food cravings come on the spur of the moment, with no time to think of alternatives.  The trick here is to take deep breaths, close your eyes and count to one hundred, or take sips of water.  If these doesn’t help, depending where you are, take your ‘comfort foods’ and again make it part of your daily food allowance.  It is crucial to get back on healthy eating the next day, since it is often the cumulative effect of several days of stress related eating habit that leads to overweight.

The sugar, caffeine or vitamins connection


When people are tired from heavy workload, they often turn to sugar, caffeine, or vitamins to jump start energy levels.  Though there is evidence that emotional stress increases our vitamin needs, if efforts are placed on simple ways to get balanced nutrition, it is possible to get all of the vitamins and other nutrients the body needs to function properly.  Sweet and caffeine-containing products may be enjoyed once in a while, but avoid using them throughout the day.  Otherwise, the result may be huge dips and surges in your energy levels.

Taking a 20 minutes’ walk around the block, or a stretching session, is more likely to renew your energy.  You will also feel much better.  Review your priorities and set aside enough time to get adequate sleep for the most dramatic effect on your energy levels.  Have you ever wondered why some mornings are lousy and others refreshing.

Good nutrition Cuts Stress

Stress is a choice. You can either decide to stop worrying about things beyond your control, or you can choose to drive yourself to unrealistic perfectionist standards.  Set your priorities in such a way that you make the most of your time and let go of the rest.  When pressures increase, you can simplify eating routines to save time if you must, but do not give up on the good nutrition that will eventually help you through stressful times.

My Way of Coping with Stress

As a writer on health and fitness, people expect my days to be absolutely ‘junk-free’ and stress-less. Well, I am only human and I have some fine days and the few occasional slips. The truth is I don’t obsess about healthy living, so my goal is at least an 80% score leaving 20% to indulge on my favourite comfort foods. On my best days, my lifestyle looks like this:
  • I wake up after eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. It is absolutely crucial am not woken up unless I get up myself – on my own. My son knows this, everyone in the house know it is a rule.
  • Breakfast: A bowl of gruel (corn or oatmeal) with ½ x 170g evaporated milk or 1 cup whole-grain, high fibre cereal with low fat fresh milk and 1 soft boiled egg, 1 apple, 1 cup of coffee.
  • Mid morning:  ½ small packet of unripe plantain chips, 1 cup of coffee to see me through my emails, 1 glass of water. 
  • Lunch: 1 small bowl of white soup with pieces of potatoes, cabbage, and fresh fish, 1 orange, 1 glass of water.
  • Mid-afternoon: 3 pieces Jacob Crackers and 1 small chunk of hard cheese or handful of peanuts, 1 glass of water.
  • Gym: 2hrs gym workout – 1 hour of high-intensity aerobics, 1 hour of resistance training. (I try to go to the gym four days a week: two days of 2 hours fast walking, one day of rest).
  • Post-gym: 1 Banana & 750 ml water to sip.
  • Dinner: Turkey breast or chicken stew with boiled rice, and green leafy salad, a glass of red wine (optional), 1 glass of water.
  • Evening: 1 medium slice Pineapple or Papaya; 1 Wellwoman 50+ multivitamin.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons


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