Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Eating and Stress: What not to Eat

We’re all tired of being told about the things that are bad for us. If you’re battling stress  understanding the impact of bad choices on you, and your body, is important.

Many of us look for a boost mid-morning or mid-afternoon. This is the most challenging time for many people in terms of healthy eating. Most easy things are not good for us.

When cravings hit do you find sweets irresistible? They are the most tempting things for me.  Sugar gives you that quick boost. Have you ever noticed how quickly you can feel its effects? Sweets can be very compelling, almost addictive.

Stable blood sugar is an important factor in keeping stress levels down. The issue is the sudden spikes then drops in your blood glucose. This is true of anything sweet. Processed sugar is the biggest culprit, but even honey, or fruit juice, can have undesirable effects. Whole fruit is really the only way to go if you are craving something sweet. If you wan to learn more about the mechanics of blood sugar see my post: Eating and Stress: Your Blood Sugar.

The second thing that people reach for is caffeine. The most common sources of caffeine are coffee, black tea, colas, and  green tea. Caffeine is a drug, and like any drug its effects different people differently. If you doubt the addictive qualities of caffeine try quitting coffee. The headaches and anxiousness should be enough to convince you. Caffeine also enters the bloodstream quickly and gives us an almost immediate boost.

Consumption of large amounts of caffeine can lead to nervousness, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, headaches, and heart palpitations. It may also keep you from sleeping well.  All of that physical stress will make dealing with other stressors more difficult. You may pay the price for that quick energy burst with a more stressed out life.
Energy drinks are a fairly new issue. They are almost always an unhealthy cocktail of sugar and caffeine. Even when derived from natural sources the effects are the same. Consuming sugar and caffeine together will increase the energy boost but also the crashes and side-effects. Avoid energy drinks altogether.
Do reach for sugary foods, caffeinated beverages, or energy drinks to get a boost? Have you every experienced any of the negative side-effects? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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