April marks the start of Stress Awareness Month so is a good time to remember how a healthy diet can have a positive impact on reducing stress levels. Stress can also be handled well when the body is as healthy as possible so eating a balanced and healthy diet is a great help too. Adrenal function is significantly influenced by blood sugar levels so it’s important to stabilise levels of sugar in the blood.

WHAT IS STRESS

Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. Stress is something that we all experiences at some time in many different ways. Low level stress can be helpful and motivational however too much stress over a longer period of time may harm our health. The changes we experience may be emotional, physical or behavioural or a combination of all three. Alongside diet and exercise the key is to identify stress related problems as early as possible to minimise the risk and learn what steps we can take to reduce it.

HEALTHY EATING TIPS TO AID STRESS RELIEF

A healthy diet and being well hydrated will not make stress disappear but it can help your body to handle stress better when it does occur. To reduce the symptoms of stress you may find some of the following tips useful:

  • Start the day with a well-balanced breakfast.
  • Try not to skip meals or eat on the go. Use meals times to relax and enjoy the food.
  • Small regular meals help to maintain energy levels and mood.
  • Prioritise protein as when stressed the body has an increased demand for it.
  • Drink plenty of fluids especially water to stay well hydrated. Even mild dehydration can increase cortisol levels which contribute to increased stress.
  • Avoid highly refined food such as white bread, pasta, chocolate (although a small amount of dark chocolate may be an exception!), biscuits, sweets and foods with hidden sugars. Many tinned produced and processed or packaged foods have hidden sugars.
  • Replace processed foods with unrefined foods such as brown bread, rice, oats and rye.
  • Reduce the amount of caffeine in your diet. Coffee, tea, some fizzy drinks and chocolate contain caffeine which can cause you to feel wound up and make stressful situations more intense.
  • If you drink alcohol do so in moderation. You might be turning to alcohol for relief more often then you realise when stressed.
  • Avoid comfort eating to relieve stress as this can lead to overeating and feelings of guilt.

“MINDFUL EATING TO SATISFY HUNGER NOT EMOTIONAL EATING TO MAKE YOU FEEL HAPPIER”