When you get too busy or stress levels are climbing, most folks tend to make poor food choices. Unfortunately, this will actually increase stress and lead to other problems. In order to get the most of your healthy eating and avoid the ‘merry-go-round’ of eating while stressed which in turn causes MORE stress, follow these simple tips for healthy lifestyle habits.
Even though you may wake up and think you aren't hungry, the fact is that you have been fasting overnight. This is why the first meal of the day is called, “break fast”. Skipping breakfast makes it more difficult to maintain blood sugar levels throughout the day. Swings in blood sugar are a physiological stress and contribute to increased cortisol levels. Eat complex carbohydrates and protein sources for breakfast.
Breakfast can also set the tone for the day. If you skip breakfast, you may overeat the rest of the day to make up for the missed meal. Not to mention, the fluctuations in blood sugar will also cause issues with focus and concentration.
When you keep some protein rich snacks in your car, office or purse you can avoid dips in your blood sugar level. Falling glucose levels lead to mood swings, attention-focusing difficulties and fatigue. Be careful when choosing trail mix and granola bars since some brands have a huge load of sugar. Carry plain unsalted nuts, raisins or dried cranberries (read the label to be sure dried fruit doesn’t contain added sugar or unhealthy oils). You can also make your own granola or energy bars. A quick search on the internet will yield many easy recipes.
If you like to munch when you're stressed out, you can replace fatty, salty chips or other non-healthy processed foods with crunchy carrot sticks, organic celery hearts, sunflower seeds or crunchy chickpeas or lentils. Here is my recipe for a great crunchy chickpea snack.
Bring your lunch
Although a lot of people prefer to eat fast food for lunch, you can save a lot of money and actually eat healthier if you take a few minutes and pack a lunch at home. Organize yourself in the evening so that all you need to do in the morning is grab your lunch and go. If you find that you frequently forget your lunch in the refrigerator—put your house keys or car keys in the refrigerator next to the lunch! When you leave the next morning, you will wonder why you can’t find the keys and then remember where they are. Right in the fridge next to the lunch that you don’t want to forget!
Even if you only bring your lunch a few times a week, you'll still see an improvement in your health, energy levels and pocketbook.
Stock your kitchen
As important as it is to get the bad food out of your house, it’s even more important to get the good food in! The best way to do this is to spend part of the weekend to plan a menu of healthy meals and snacks, list what you need to pick up at the grocery store and then shop for it. This way, you’ll know what you need when you shop and avoid that stress. You’ll also know what you’ve got in the house throughout the week and you won’t have to stress over what to eat.
In addition to healthy foods and regular meals, remaining hydrated is key to cellular health and therefore lowering your body’s stress. When you are dehydrated, you may suffer from headaches, your immune system doesn’t function as well, and toxins from the environment as well as toxic metabolic waste products build up in your body. The first sign of dehydration is thirst; so keep drinking plenty of filtered water throughout the day before you begin to feel thirsty.
Mindful choices and a little organization can help you lower the stress in your life. Pick one strategy here and begin to implement it today. What have you got to lose other than a bit of stress?
I help women living with or at risk for developing heart disease or other chronic illness that we can manage through lifestyle and nutrition changes. Or maybe you're on the verge of developing heart disease, or diabetes, or another lifestyle related condition. If so, let's chat. For a free consultation with me, click here.