How does stress affect what you eat?
We tend to think of stress as our emotional response to things that are giving us a bad day or making us feel that we can’t cope.
Your body can be stressed by many things – chemicals, allergens, tobacco, lack of exercise, nutritional deficiencies, junk food diet as well as the stress from anger, frustration and helplessness. All of these factors can affect our stress hormone levels and metabolism and have many effects on the body - weight increases, blood pressure goes up, sleep is affected and you may get brain fog.
It also affects willpower over what you eat, increasing cravings for salt, sugar and fat, as the body’s hunger hormones are affected and it’s much harder to feel satisfied after eating. Stressed? It becomes a vicious merry-go-round that’s so hard to jump off and can be the catalyst for ill health.
The key is realising that dieting is not the best option. What can you do? Talking to a professional can help you see through the quagmire. A nutritional therapist will look at all aspects of your diet and lifestyle and can help with the way forward. They will work out what is causing your body to be stressed. Usually there are several components.
If it’s emotional – suggesting ways you can learn to deal with it or change it.
If it’s due to a poor diet – give nutritional advice. It can take a while to change eating habits and get control of those pesky hunger hormones.
Nutritional advice can also help with, food allergies, intolerances and nutritional deficiencies which are adding to the stress load. A nutritional therapist can also give individualised lifestyle advice suggesting suitable and doable exercise, relaxation activities and ways to reduce the stress load.
You can’t get rid of all the stress in your life but you can reduce it, learn to manage it and as you feel better the stress load reduces more. This is the merry-go-round you want to get on.
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About Heather Lickley
Heather Lickley is a qualified nutritional therapist working in Edinburgh.