Manage Stress: Food

Focus on Health to Help Manage Stress

 

Manage Stress with Health: Food

We eat to provide our bodies with life sustaining sustenance and energy giving nutrients, but eat too much, too little, or not a wide enough variety and you will be regretting it. There is a long list of ways you can go about using food to help focus on your health and utilize it to manage your stress. We would like to share five suggestions for focusing on health via food.

Food is a funny thing. We eat to provide our bodies with life sustaining sustenance and energy giving nutrients, but eat too much or too little (lack of moderation) or not a wide enough variety (lack of balance) and you will be regretting it. Health professionals claim that eating habits (especially bad ones) are often connected with “emotional triggers” – feelings or situations that cause a person to crave certain foods or maybe even not eat at all. Sometimes we also need to be willing to delay gratification and eat our two cupcakes a day or two apart instead of both in one sitting. Or, even forgo the cupcakes altogether to have less calories or sugars to worry about.

To help with this, we have collected a few practical actions of healthy eating that you could try implementing into your daily life. Of course, there are many things you could do in addition to what we suggest here, but we think these are a solid start to improving your stress management through your eating habits.

  • Target your ideal weight.
    To get started on this step, you can look up a calculator for body mass index (calculated from your weight and height, provides a reliable indicator of body fatness) – also called BMI for short – at your local school, with your physician, or even online. One such site is the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/bmi/index.htm). Ideal weights for people vary depending on height and gender (which the BMI calculator takes into consideration) as well as bone structures and body builds. The BMI calculators, however, give a range of weight in categories such as underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obese. Because of this range type reading, it is usually pretty safe to use the number it calculates for you as a legitimate reference.
  • Vary what you eat.
    It is very important for the human body to ingest a wide range of food types. The reason for this need is because of the necessity of vitamins and minerals. Believe it or not, there is not a single food or group of food that can give your body everything it needs. Also, this may come as a surprise to some of you, but we recognize six basic food groups (not two). Those six groups are:

    1. Fruits (defined as anything with seeds that has a source of natural sugars, fibers, and vitamins is a fruit, but less sweet fruits like tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers, and corn are classified in stores as vegetables) (such as apples, bananas, oranges)
    2. Vegetables (defined as anything without seeds but that may contain many vitamins and minerals less sweet fruits like tomatoes, pumpkins, avocados, and corn are classified in stores as vegetables – not considered a grain, fruit, nut, spice, or herb) (such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots)
    3. Proteins (defined as foods containing polymers of amino acids) (such as eggs, legumes, meats)
    4. Dairies (defined as foods which are a rich source of the mineral calcium, but also provide protein, phosphorus, vitamin A, and vitamin D) (such as cheese, milk, yogurt)
    5. Carbohydrates (defined as foods which contain a source of energy that can be transformed into glucose – a form of sugar the body uses more quickly than proteins or fats) (such as breads, grains, pasta)
    6. Fats and Sugars (defined as a useable energy source by the body, some fats and sugars are healthier than others) (such as butter and oil, oil from nuts, fat from avocado, sugar from fruits and honey)

    Sorry, but chocolate nor beer are their own food group. Something else very important to do while varying your diet is find out portions and allotment sizes for the particular food item or overall group. This tiny piece of information can be a crucial part to successfully balancing your food in moderation and getting your food varied enough to give your body the nutrients it needs.

  • Limit the “bad” stuff.
    By “bad” stuff, we mean fat, cholesterol, sugar, and alcohol. Looking at that list, you’re probably thinking, “Umm… that’s the good stuff!” Well, unfortunately your taste buds and/or brain may think so, but it is largely not the case. Also, notice we say limit – not eradicate – just, less than maybe you are currently consuming. Why would you want to do that? Let’s go over some possible reasons…

    1. Identify the fats. Good fats (like olive oil) aren’t nearly as bad for you – especially in proper portions. Beware, however, of trans fats (unsaturated fats usually produced from partially hydrogenated plant oils).
    2. Bad fats and cholesterol in high amounts increase the risk of heart disease.
    3. Sugar is an empty calorie – and it sure can help you pack on the pounds!
    4. Alcohol is bursting with calories. If non-lite beers average 150 calories and sweetened mixed drinks have even more, just think about which direction you’d be tipping the scale – especially as a heavy drinker.

    Many of these things can be worked around. For instance, make cookies at home with honey or other natural, raw sweeteners and avoid products containing high fructose corn syrup. Once you start really investigating ingredients, though, you may find avoiding high fructose corn syrup is much harder than you thought!

  • Snack smart.
    Everyone gets a hankering for a snack now and again, and that’s perfectly okay! In fact, many times smaller more frequent meals throughout the day are said to be better than two or three large meals. The thing about snacks, though, is that you should try and keep them low calorie. And when we mean low, we mean low – like under 200 calories. Most candy bars are higher than that…! This may seem like really rotten news (we know you love your Snickers), but it doesn’t mean you can’t have sweet stuff or are chained to a tiny section of drab, tasteless foods. In fact, there are lots of snacks that are tasty and healthy too! Fruits and vegetables (raw or dried) and yogurts and sometimes nuts are all great, relatively low-fat, and low-sugar options. And, normally, the types of fats or sugars they have are actually pretty good for you (in proper portions, of course). Also, check out the frozen section for frozen juice bars or frozen fruit to make smoothies right at home!
  • Set reasonable goals for yourself.
    Whatever you do at this point, do yourself a huge favor and do not compare yourself to people like Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Ashton Kutcher, Channing Tatum, or Megan Fox. Why? Umm…only because they get paid to look the way they do and have all day to work on their physique with exercise and guidance from a personal trainer. There is nothing wrong with having reasonable end goals, but before you make it a goal, make sure it’s attainable in the next six months to a year. Of course, if you are really bent on setting targets that could be two, three, or more years in the making then be fair to yourself and set other little goals along the way so you feel you are making progress. It is very difficult and can feel discouraging to stay dedicated to a goal if it feels so far away that you will never get there. Once you start making headway on your goals, it will be easier for you to continue reaching for them. We urge you to be sensible with your goals because setting unreasonable targets for yourself can actually create more stress in your attempt to manage.

As we said earlier, there are lots of different ways to work on managing your stress with the aid of balancing your diet and eating your food in moderation. Now that we have gone over some practical actions you can take to help you manage your stress through food, we hope you don’t feel like these are impossible, but instead encouraging. Fortunately, though, food is not the only area of health you can focus on to help manage your stress. Other areas can include exercise, sleep, and staying safe. So, keep your chin up and relax!

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