Older woman of colour selecting vegetables from a shop display

How to Combat Stress With Good Nutrition: Stress Management Techniques

Stress Management: How to Combat Stress with Good Nutrition

Always remember, “You’re Never Too Busy For Good Nutrition!”. After a busy and stressful day, we make poor nutritional choices regarding the food that we eat which increases our stress levels and causes other health issues. We tend to do this because we’re in a rush to eat, and it’s easier to grab pre-packaged food that may be less healthy than to prepare a healthy meal. Or we may do this because we are hungry for less healthy food when feeling stressed and tired. 

However, we can experience short-term and long-term consequences when we eat an unhealthy diet. We might start to feel less energetic, and this lack of energy can affect our productivity. We might become less able to fight off sickness, which can affect our quality of life.

Here are some tips for getting good nutrition and maintaining a healthier diet, even under stress: 

After a few weeks of trying these tips, they’ll become a habit, and you won’t even have to think about good nutrition. And your body, not to mention your stress level, will feel the difference!

1. Eat Regularly

We need to eat regularly throughout the day, and not skip meals, to maintain blood sugar levels, and also to ensure that we are not physiologically hungry. Whatever you’re doing will be much more difficult if you are stressed, craving something and physiologically hungry. The first step is always to ensure you’re not skipping meals.

You may rationalise that you’re not hungry yet, that you don’t have time, that lunch will come soon enough, that you need to diet anyway, or that the milk in the latte you pick up on the way is all the good nutrition you need. But skipping breakfast makes it harder to maintain stable blood sugar levels and effective functioning during your busy morning; you need it. (You can quickly grab a hard-boiled egg and container of orange juice on your way out the door, right?)

hard boiled eggs, cut in half - 6 egg halves, fluffy yellow yolk and hardened white surrounding, and one still in broken shell - on white plate
Hard Boiled Eggs
2. Opt For Green Tea

If you’re a coffee-lover, you may not realise caffeine’s effects on your system. However, you can reduce your stress levels and improve your mental performance throughout the day if you gradually wean yourself off large amounts of caffeine. A relatively easy and healthy way to do that is to replace coffee with decaffeinated green tea, which has a soothing taste and the added benefit of loads of antioxidants.

3 white cups containing clear, pale green tea - fingers of hands touching cups
Green Tea
3. Try Sparkling Juice or Perrier

If you’re a cola drinker, you’re probably experiencing the same health consequences from caffeine that coffee drinkers experience. A healthier alternative is sparkling fruit juice or sparkling water. You’ll still be getting a refreshing treat, and you’ll be adding water to your system rather than detracting it (caffeine saps your water system, so drinking it is akin to un-drinking water!). You’ll also be avoiding other caffeine-related side effects.

4. Carry a Snack

Having some protein-rich, healthful snacks in your car, office, or purse can help you avoid blood sugar level dips and accompanying mood swings and fatigue. Fruit, nuts, trail mix, granola bars, and specific energy bars all contain good nutrition. Along these lines, you should always have water handy, which is vital to health and proper physical functioning.

granola bar - pale brown oat flakes, dark fruit, golden brown nuts - on white background
Granola Bar
5. Healthy Munches

Suppose you find that you absently munch when you’re stressed or have a pattern of snacking at certain times in the day or week – stock up on healthy choices. Replace chips, cheese puffs, and other processed munchies with carrot sticks, edamame, celery sticks, and sunflower seeds. (Even popcorn is better if you leave the butter and salt off!)

6. Brown Bag It

Many people go out for lunch to fast food places, coffee shops, or restaurants that serve less-than-optimally healthy fare. While this does save a bit of time, you can save money and usually eat in a much more beneficial way if you take a few extra minutes to pack and bring a lunch from home.

7. No Caffeine After 2 pm

Since caffeine has a half-life of at least 6 hours in your body, the caffeine you ingest with dinner can interfere with your sleep at night.

8. Stock Your Home With Healthy Fare

It’s easier to avoid sugary, fatty, and otherwise unhealthy foods if they’re not in your home, practically begging you to eat them. This may sound like a no-brainer (yet it’s sometimes harder to do than you’d expect), but you should go through your kitchen and ensure you have plenty of good-for-you foods to snack on when stressed.

Red and yellow peppers, orange carrot, off-white garlic, creamy cashews, halved avocado (very pale green, dark green skin, pale brown stone) and powdered spice that looks like cinnamon - on grey worktop with black background

Consider planning a menu of healthy meals and snacks at the beginning of each week, list the ingredients you’ll need, and shop for everything once a week. That way, you know you’ll have what you want when you need it, and you won’t have to stress over what to eat each night; you’ll already have thought of it. (This makes eating at home much more straightforward, too!)

9. Tension Tamers

Men in sportswear doing tai chi in palastraded open construction with pale floor, off-white pillars and green, leafy background

Adopting stress-reducing techniques should also reduce your stress-induced cravings for unhealthy or excessive food. I recommend yoga, martial arts, journaling, laughter, and PMR (Progressive Muscle Relaxation), to help you calm down and turn off your body’s stress response.

Bald man, around 50, dressed in white shorts and teeshirt, holding white cup in right hand, on steamer style sunbed - on white deck with silver railings, background of blue sea, blue sky, idyllic island with white sand and green palm trees
Relaxed and Stressless

You may also like to read this article, Nutritional Therapy: The benefits of visiting a Nutritional Therapist

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