Stress may not be the first thing you associate with nutrition, however, they share a stronger link than you might initially believe.
To be honest with you: I get easily stressed out. Feeling behind on my to-do lists, and trying to manage the household stuff (bills, meals, chores) gets the best of me some days.
Many others feel the stress too. A study reported higher levels of stress in America since the start of the pandemic. You might be surprised to know that 70% of North Americans are more stressed now than they’ve been in their entire career. Stress and burnout are real issues affecting more and more people. With loss of business because of restrictions, unemployment, and virtual learning, it is no surprise that all of our stress levels were elevated.
I can proudly state that I’ve become way better at managing my stress. I’m much more patient (and I think my kids would say more fun) too.
It’s hard to avoid stressful moments like rushing to get food on the table and ensuring your children eat it, even a messy house wears you down. The effect of stress does not stop at the event, but its effects carry on into the long term.
Long Term Effects
Stress is a physical response to an emotional feeling of being overwhelmed. It is usually triggered by a situation or workload. Although it is normal, too much can have many adverse effects on your mental and physical health. Ninety percent of diseases are caused by or worsened by bad stress. Some stress-related illnesses include high blood pressure, heart disease, ulcers, migraine headaches, and cardiovascular disease. Stress also creates deficiencies in key nutrients: it prevents you from assimilating vitamin Bs (for energy), Vitamin C and zinc (for immunity), and magnesium (for healthy bones, sleep, stress, etc).
Plus, people who suffer from chronic stress are more likely to:
- Get sick (it suppresses your immune system)
- Crave sugar and carbs
- Have difficulty losing weight (especially around the middle)
- Suffer from cardiovascular disease
- Get in a car accident
- Develop anxiety and depression
The good news is there are simple ways to manage your stress.
How Sugar and Stress are Linked
Try this today: Limit your sugar intake, especially in the morning.
Your blood sugar might become elevated in the morning since traditional breakfast foods contain refined carbs that digest quickly. The spike won’t usually give you the energy you crave.
Excessive sugar needs to be controlled by cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone located in the adrenal glands (on top of our kidneys) that increases blood sugar levels. The primary function of cortisol is to regulate your stress and repair body tissues. When we eat too much sugar, our adrenal glands work harder to produce more cortisol. However, an overabundance of cortisol can create hormonal imbalances. Over a long period of time, chronic stress taxes our adrenals which leads to severe fatigue, brain fog, and cravings. Copious amounts of sugar overstimulate your nervous system and trigger a stress response.
So if you’re craving sweets, but want to keep healthy, check out my raspberry gummies recipe.
Or try some dark chocolate (seriously!).
When stressed, try chocolate
Chocolate is classically thought of as a sugary treat, but dark chocolate contains many nutritional properties that stop stress in its tracks. Savour a 2-ounce serving of 80% or higher, fair trade, dark chocolate or just raw cacao powder (but not before bedtime if you’re sensitive to caffeine).
- Chocolate contains anandamide, a neurotransmitter that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and depression.
- Chocolate and cocoa contain large amounts of flavanols, which enhance cognitive function and blood flow to your brain.
- Studies show a small amount of dark chocolate daily helps women keep unwanted weight off, and keep our moods happier!
- Dark chocolate is a fabulous source of magnesium (which is known as the “calming mineral” or the “chill pill”). Since sugar and stress deplete magnesium, we need to increase our supply!
Here are a few great brands to try:
Or make my DELISH 5-ingredient Low-Sugar Chocolate Bar:
Stress-Busting Chocolate Bar
5-ingredient, low sugar chocolate bar to reduce stress
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup nut butter (cashew, peanut, almond)
- ¼ cup raw cacao powder
- ¼ cup protein powder
- 1 tbsp rice malt syrup
- 1 pinch sea salt
Mix all ingredients and pour into lined pan
Freeze and cut into squares
Want more stress-busting tips and tools?
Email us about our powerful 60-minute STRESS LESS Workshop with simple bite-sized healthy habits you (and your family or colleagues) can implement right away to manage your stress, overwhelm and anxiety.