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How to Manage Your Diet When You are Stressed

Did you know during times of stress, your body can make sugar because it thinks you need it? When someone runs at a constant level of high stress, the additional sugar produced may be stored as fat, which increases weight and risk for other health conditions.

Unfortunately, stressors are present in our day-to-day life: work, family, kids, money, the list goes on and on. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can suppress the immune system, constrict blood vessels and increase mindless eating.

Often times, people choose foods high in salt, fat and sugar when they are stressed. Studies have shown that comfort foods increase serotonin, the neurotransmitter that balances mood. This may explain why when you have a rough day at work, you want to come home to a bowl of ice cream or pot roast like your mom used to make. We associate those foods with happy memories, so eating them makes us happier.

You are in charge of how you respond to stress. Try these techniques to better manage your stress:

Exercise: physically getting rid of stress while burning calories, a win-win
Getting adequate sleep: get to bed early and let your body recover
Meditation or prayer: use an app or schedule quiet time
Reading: distract your mind by reading a positive story or article
Listening to music: play music on your computer or phone when you need a break

Sure these all seem like simple things, but they actually work. Better yet, beat stress by planning ahead. Packing a healthy meal, walking over a lunch break or fitting in a morning workout can give you a head start in beating stress.

Next time you are feeling the pressure, try to relax with these tools. Your mind and waistline will thank you.

Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE, IFNCP™
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE, IFNCP™

Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist and Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. She is the diabetes education program coordinator at CHI Health and sees patients at the Millard Clinic. She works with patients to identify root causes to health conditions and make changes to improve overall health. Ellen’s passion is to help others develop lifestyle habits that allow them to feel their best.

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