Are you a stressed out HRM mama or papa struggling to avoid that next cold that burns its way through your family? Maybe you are doing everything to lose a few pounds but the scale won’t budge?
You may not know that proper stress management can be key to both successful weight loss and a strong immune system. It is also integral to long-term health. Most people have heard about the correlation between stress and weight gain or illness but have little understanding as the physiological connection.
In my experience, when my clients begin to understand what actually physically happens in their bodies in times of stress & poor eating, and how this leads to increased stress hormone levels and resulting damage, they are more motivated to both eliminate some of the unnecessary stress in their lives and ﬁnd effective stress management tools for those inevitable stressors they cannot avoid.
Here are a few “stress facts”:
– What happens inside your body when you encounter stress, whether physical (i.e. an extreme workout), mental (i.e. challenging ﬁle at work) or emotional (i.e. grief), is exactly the same: It’s an automatic reaction called the “ﬁght or ﬂight” response.
– When our body’s “ﬁght or ﬂight” response is triggered, all of our functions perceived essential to combating the stressful situation (such as heart rate, blood pressure, & eyesight) are sharpened, but those systems our body perceives to be “non-essential” in times of stress, such as digestion, shut down. Ever had that knot in your stomach & digestive distress on the day of a big presentation? Now you know why!
– The stress response triggers the release of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. If we deal with the stress effectively and subsequently re-enter a relaxed state, these hormone levels should rise and then lower. However, when we are chronically stressed, they stay elevated.
– Chronically elevated cortisol levels are dangerous. They lead to increased belly fat, blood sugar imbalances, increased blood pressure, increased cholesterol, increased risk of heart attack and stroke and many other major chronic illnesses.
– Processed “non-foods”, with little or no nutritive value and which are high in reﬁned sugars and additives, further contribute to increased cortisol levels.
– Similarly, caffeine can elevate cortisol levels.
– Stress also reduces vitamin B levels and contributes to inﬂammation. We need B vitamins to metabolize energy and keep our immune function up. Stressed out people often get sick and tired as a result.
Have I got you stressed out just thinking about all this?
Here’s the simple ﬁx: Focus on whole foods, speciﬁcally lots of veggies and fruits. Restrict processed foods. Manage your stress the best you can, by bringing yourself into a relaxed state through breathing, yoga, moderate exercise, or just venting to a friend. Stop paying lip service to stress management & healthy eating and make some positive changes.
It’s worth it, isn’t it?
Wendy McCallum, LLB, RHN, is passionate about providing busy parents with the tools & support they need to feed their families wholesome food, so everyone can play, learn, and feel better! She is a mother of two terrific HRM kids, aged 7 &8. For information and recipe ideas, visit her website.