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Stress Management and Your Diet

diet stress levels

In order for our nervous systems to truly relax, so do we! If we don’t, our stress can destroy our health.

The body is CLEVER. When your body feels danger (like being attacked by a woolly bear or being screamed at by your boss) – the part of the brain that controls fear doesn’t know the difference.

And so our repair mechanisms within the body that kill cancer cells, fight infections and yes, my favourite, slow the ageing process, shut down during periods of stress.  And how many of us are actually stressed all day long……?!

Eating the right foods plays a huge part in managing stress levels and is one of the easiest ways to manage your stress. Eating wholesome and healthy foods will boost serotonin levels which calms the brain.

Health foods also build up the immune system and lowers blood pressure which both contribute towards your stress levels. If any of the following seven points ring true for you then you are more than likely stressed and need to re-evaluate your diet.

You have backaches and headaches

If your cortisol levels stay high over a period of time, you probably have adrenal fatigue which increases the body’s sensitivity to pain – back pain, muscle pain and even headaches.

Your sleep is broken or you simply can’t sleep well

At night is when we’re supposed to allow our bodies to relax and restore, but if your cortisol levels are too high, you end up tossing and turning all night and feel tired again the next day.

OR hands up if you do sleep well but you still wake up tired?  If so, those high levels of cortisol are depleting the adrenal glands which in turn predisposes you to chronic fatigue.

You’re gaining weight

Even if you’re eating well and exercising, you can’t seem to shift the weight and/or you’re gaining it around your belly.  Yup, once again that’s cortisol.  It tends to make you thick around the middle and store those last 5 pounds…. even if you’re doing everything right!

You always seem to catch ‘the’ cold that’s going around

Your body’s immune system is deactivated with too much cortisol and that in turns leaves you prone to infections and colds.

You crave the ‘bad’ foods

Yup, this one too!  That nasty cortisol raises your blood sugar, then the high glucose levels raise your insulin levels which in turn drops your blood sugar!  So, you’re back to craving the ‘bad’ foods over and over again.

Your gut goes nuts

The stress hormone cortisol heightens the sensitivity in your gastrointestinal system. So things like heartburn, cramps, constipation, feeling sick or diarrhoea are a result of too much cortisol.

You feel blue

Unfortunately, high levels of cortisol reduce the production of serotonin and before you know it, you’re feeling gloomy.

Take Action For Stress Management

So, if any of these sounds like your life you need to take a close look at the foods you are eating on a daily basis. Try to make gradual changes to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole foods and raw foods such as nuts into your diet.

Steering well clear of processed foods will also help you manage your stress and should be the first step you take!

Once you have your diet under control, you will soon notice your energy levels go up whilst your stress levels decrease!

This Post Has 41 Comments

  1. Hi Julie,
    I feel like I could reach right in and eat those veggies off the screen!
    This article is interesting for four of those points describe me (not so much 1, 5 and 7).
    I do eat lots of fresh fruit and vege, maybe still a few too many processed foods.
    Thanks for the information. I’ll try a few more adjustments.

  2. Eck… I tick every one. It is not so easy to ignore when you see a list like this and get 100%.
    Improving my diet is something I aim for and end up sabotaging my efforts myself.
    Suggestions on how to kick start a change in eating habits?

  3. Hi Julie, I don’t know if you remember me. I used to go to your yoga classes at the Harbour Club and we had sons at Jane Ravel’s doing exam prep at the same time. I did a few of your detox and bought your recipe books, which I love.
    But having gone through all that pain of children’s exams we have now moved to NY and I am having the worst time with stress, hair loss, hair turning grey, gaining weight for no good reason, etc…
    Am I remembering correctly that you lived in NY? I know we talked about detox companies over here state side. Would you be able to recommend a good place for me? I feel I need help right now.
    I hope you had a trick Thanksgiving and look forward to hearing from you soon. All best, Monica
    No dia 04/12/2013, às 05:03, The Flexi Foodie escreveu:
    > >

  4. I could relate to many of these (especially craving the bad foods…) A few years ago, we did a low sugar/carb eating plan and I felt great. But when I fell of the wagon, I got hooked on the sugar again. I need to cut out the sugar again because I can’t seem to handle moderation.

  5. Julie, as someone who is perpetually hungry and also a spouse of a cancer survivor I am very appreciative of the work that you do and the posts that you make. Also thank you for dropping by hisnamebpraised, liking the post and following the site. I pray blessings fro you and all who are fortunate to visit your site. Doug

  6. I first came over here to thank you for following my blog and got stumped on this post…you described my physical health…chronic pain…will add this post to my smart phone to be reminded…if doctors helped us with Fibromyalgia, with education and nutrition, instead of shoving meds down our throats which I refuse to take…great post and very helpful…will reblog this on my website Stop the Stigma where I talk about mental health. Thanks so much for sharing. Cheryl-Lynn

  7. I agree with all of your nutrition and exercise info. I am over 82 years old and have pretty much followed your plan without really thinking about since when i was your we had to grow or gather all our food. Well, enough of that.
    Thank you for liking one of my post on, “River Congo – Excerept 21” These are continuing post of my two Congo novels; Of Ruler and Rules and Of Chiefs and Giants. And also thanks for following. – Thanks and Aloha – pjs.

  8. Reblogged this on Ode to Life and its Lessons and commented:
    Because of my limited mobility at present, I can not exercise properly. This is the first time in years that I am unable to work out (It’s messing with my head I tell you. That and the size of my inbox on my return to work). As such, I have to be extra careful about what I am putting into my mouth. Over the remaining month or so of recovery my aim is not to undo years of hard work I have put into my body. With holiday get togethers and family lunches to sabotage me, you will find that I will talk more about healthy eating habits and I will also share blog posts such as this. Here’s how to spot the issue when stress is running your diet….

  9. Hi!
    New to reading your blog but I can totally relate to this post! Normally an extremely healthy diet, but After Christmas I am fining it hard to get back into the swing of things and my body feels COMPLETLY out of whack! Now I am just starting to link all my aches and pains, lack of sleep and constant illness to my high stress levels which are in turn causing me to eat a little bit off the beaten track! Thanks for this post, it’s make me think a little clearer!! 🙂

  10. Very important article. Having a health problem related to high cortisol myself, so I have done some research and have made some changes to lifestyle and diet. One of the main culprit is caffeine. Exercise regularly helps the body to manage stress better, but straining exercise like long distance running can increase cortisol level. Of cause, eat healthy and occasionally eat dark chocolate and drink red wine to make yourself happy.

  11. Great post, Julie! I recently gave a workshop on stress and the importance of self-care. We covered many of the items you’ve discussed here. So many people focus solely on diet when trying to lose weight or improve health, but fail to realize the important role of stress reduction in living a healthy lifestyle.

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