“Stress less to eat healthy, eat healthy to stress less!”
Most struggles that get in the way of changing dietary habits for best come down to three main categories: stress, habits and physical challenges. Let’s talk about stress.
There is a lot of confusion behind this physical, mental and physiological cascade of events. Chronic stress can be as detrimental as eating junk food, yet it is still not fully acknowledged by most.
Stress can be both emotional and physical. Often the answer to my evocation of stress during a session is: “what do you mean? I feel happy”. Stress is at that point mainly associated with the perception of one’s life, the conscious “negative” emotional state of an individual.
But wonderful things in life can also cause stress. Think about preparing a wedding, planning your holidays or having guests at home. Despite looking forward to these events, the process of organizing is stressful.
Stress is also rarely understood when related to physical events. However, in practice, I often see some biological markers or symptoms changing when a person is recovering from an infection, living in a toxic environment or experiencing some nutrient deficiencies.
Both physical and emotional stress have the same impact and the same hormonal response. And they both work in a catch-22 manner.
Acute stress is crucial for safety and drive. It’s disruptive in the moment but resolves itself quickly. Chronic stress, on the other hand, lasts for weeks, months, or even years.
Often our bodies will adapt to the stress, and we manage to get back to our routine. That’s when we struggle to realize something is unbalanced. That’s how social stressors, as well as non-addressed physical burdens, increase risk of disease.
“If you turn it on for too long, you get sick.” – Dr Robert Sapolsky
Stress Effects – Slow and Pervasive
There are no direct effects of chronic state, simply slow accumulation of lifestyle damage over time. Most of us struggle to recognize stress as a contributing factor to our suboptimal health and wellness.
However, chronic stress can slow down your weight loss or cause weight gain, can increase your blood glucose levels, can lead to poor quality sleep or chronic inflammation. All contributing factors to the epidemic of chronic dis-eases and diseases.
Chronic stress can be attributed to multiples feelings, sensations or physical symptoms. That’s the privilege of being humans.
We can feel overwhelmed, anxious, mentally foggy, frustrated, angry. We may be more sensitive to aches and pain, feel tummy pain, be constipated or have diarrhoea, catch a cold more frequently…
All are signs our body is under some form of stress. We all experience any of these at some stage of our life. The good news is we have the capability to turn these feelings and sensations off as we have the ability to create them.
Eat for Health and Stress
We usually find it impossible to eat for health during stressful periods, blame ourselves for failing to stick to our supportive dietary habits and reach to sweet or fatty foods as a consequence. The real question is: ” Why when we feel frustrated or overwhelmed, we eat cookies?”
When under stress our body secretes cortisol to help us cope. But cortisol also makes us feel hungry, crave sweets and gain weight. It has nothing to do with our personality or willpower.
When it comes to eating, we are choosing what we put in our mouths and when. But our choices are altered by our non-specific response to stress.
The good news is we can consciously change our relationship to stress (and food) to re-establish an ideal balance in our body and mind.