When we are stressed out, Our eating pattern becomes affected, and it varies from one person to the next. Some lose their appetite, while some overeat. 

And more often than not, in our stressed moment, we make poor choices. 

Managing and understanding your daily stress can help you maintain a healthy wellbeing.

Certain foods are not appropriate to eat when you're stressed. They aren't nourishing however we tend to opt for this kind of foods when stressed out. 

Ass Prof Torres (IPAN) researched the link between mental, health and dietary intake. She states "stress is harmful to the body, and particularly a major contributor to the development of chronic diseases, such as obesity, mental disorder, like anxiety and depression, and can cause physical disease". 

Our bodies release hormones like adrenaline, which raises blood pressure when we are stressed. Prolonged stress can result in hypertension, which can lead to the risk of future cardiovascular disease.


Worst food for stress-eating

Coffee 

Although coffee can be a great source of energy, it actually gives you 'energy', which can be deceptive. When feeling stressed, it only gives you a burst of energy momentarily and it can send you into overdrive before you realise you need to calm down.

Energy drinks and snacks

You've got to apply caution because most of these energy drinks and snacks are packed full of sugar, carbohydrates and mostly unnecessary calories. You don't need it.

Alcohol

Taking alcohol to relax when stressed can sound cool; however, It is the last thing your body needs as it's a depressant, and has been shown to raise cortisol levels (stress hormone). 


Fried foods

Fried foods are usually loaded with salt and fats. And often, has no nutritional value. And, if anything, it takes the time that you typically don't have to make them anyway. They aren't great options especially when stressed, Preparation-wise and nutrition-wise.

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Why do we opt for bad food when stressed?

It's interesting how stressed is dessert spelt backwards. Stress and desert are linked for a lot of women who feel sugar fix is a sweet escape from pressure and overwhelm. 

Below are six reasons for stress eating:

Limited time and money.

When stressed the two things that can drain you is time and money. For example, because of deadlines, you probably didn't care to eat until it's almost late in the day and then you're so exhausted to go shopping for what to cook. Enter - fast food or frozen foods! (they fill the need at moment like this however continuing in this circle sure has its consequences on you wellbeing and wallet)

Limited cash also makes people's go for cheaper food, which are mostly empty calories, high in sugar, salt and fat, compared to expensive fruits and vegetables.


Being unmindful

Unmindfulness happens when your brain encourages fight or flight mode to keep going without taking a break.

When you are in this mode, all you are focused on is your task that needs to be completed or the bills to be paid. While this is going on, Stress eating sneaks in and you could be reaching for cookies, almost 3-4 times. 

The issue with multitasking this way is it can affect the signal your brain gets about being Full and you just continue to stuff the food down unconsciously.


Sleep deprivation

Report by "Stress in America" says 42% of Americans. Stay awake at night because of stress.

The stress of achieving our goals, financial instabilities, work, relationships, or health can keep us from sleeping well at night. 

One of the major causes of insomnia is worrying, going for a cup of coffee or caffeinated drinks to stay awake and enjoying nightcaps.

Sleep deprivation affects the function of the Ghrelin and leptin chemicals which control appetite. It also impairs our ability to resist the temptation for a sugar fix.


Cortisol

When stressed, your flight or fight response is activated, and it makes the body release chemicals, including cortisol and adrenaline.

These chemicals get you ready to fight or run away from danger. While in fight or flight Your adrenalin helps you feel less hungry as blood flows away from your internal organs to your large muscles.

Once adrenaline wears off your cortisol (stress hormone) is just right around to signal your body for food supply.

This makes you crave for quick fixes, but these kinds of food are typically high in sugar, salt and fat.


Decreased metabolism.

Stress can be visible physically, but there's another internal way it affects the body process, like metabolism. 

Metabolism is a process related to your body's ability to process energy from fat, sugar and protein, and how it stores energy. Stress decreases your body's metabolism, making it possible for more glucose to be around for energy to fight or flee.

This is one reason it is possible to put on weight, even when you don't eat more than you do. 

Chemicals causing inflammation can be released when you've got excess belly fat, and this affects general well being (emotional and physical).


How to stop stress from affecting your diet

  • Know your trigger by Identifying times of stress and plan Where possible.
  • Plan your meals and have a healthy snack handy for those moments when stress feeling kicks in. Avoid sugary alternatives.
  • Eat mindfully

Eating mindfully means you don't multitask while eating. This allows you to be in the moment and enjoy what you're eating.

Slowing down to eat is a form of meditative practice, and can help you calm your mind down, especially when stressed.

Another benefit to this is that your body can signal when it's full, so you don't overeat.

Engage in stress management techniques like creating your exercise routine, enjoying a hot bath with relaxing essential oils, meditating by focusing on your breathing. 

This helps in reducing mental stress, and reports have shown it lowers blood pressure If you're consistent with it.


Final thoughts

If you realise you are stress eating and continuously opt for quick fixes and sugar fixes. It's time to narrow down and observe what could be going on at moments when you crave them. Also, try some stress management techniques. 

We can't completely avoid stress, but we can manage it very well and be deliberate about things we put in our body for our nourishment. 

I hope you got something out of this and I'd love to know your opinions and your thoughts in the comment section below. 

About the Author Funmi

Funmi is a Certified Functional Health Coach. She is passionate about helping female entrepreneurs transform from Stress and burnout so they can begin to thrive in their body and, by extension, their businesses. 

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