Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one thing when you have a hold on things. But when you’re under stress, it becomes a lot more difficult to eat well. Stress can affect how your body uses energy, giving off signals to eat calorie-dense comfort foods. But there are some simple ways to make sure you keep eating well when you’re stressed.
Have a glass of water before a treat
The best way to make sure you’re dealing with actual hunger is to make sure you’re hydrated first. Try having a glass of water and waiting 20 minutes before snacking. That way, if you do go ahead and snack, you’ll be better able to make a healthy choice and moderate your portion size.
Plan and prepare food
Failing to plan is planning to fail, especially when it comes to food. If you know the week ahead is going to be chaotic, now is the time to prepare for it.
Think about picking up some healthy snacks and some easy dinner options. Figure out a couple of dinners that take 30 minutes or less to cook, like stirfries, and pick up the ingredients. You could even batch-cook a meal to eat for lunch throughout the week.
Include regular balanced snacks
Stress can affect how your body regulates blood sugar levels, so you might benefit from eating regular snacks as well as meals. But this isn’t permission to buy half of the vending machine. You want your snacks to include protein, good fats and/or low GI, high fibre carbohydrates.
Think about snacks such as:
- Nut butter on fruit or celery sticks
- Roasted chickpeas and beans
- Nuts and seeds
- Boiled eggs
- Low-sugar trail mix
- Hommus or avocado dip with veggie sticks
Take food everywhere you go
When you’re running around, it’s easy to justify picking up lunch from the food court or grabbing drive-through. Instead, take healthy snacks and meals with you whenever you know you’re likely to get caught up. Stash a couple of snack packs of nuts in the car just in case you get hit by the hungries while you’re out and about.
By having food on hand, you make it convenient to stay healthy – and you’ll save some money, too.
Move your body
Even if you’re busy, you can still squeeze in a few minutes of movement each day. Exercise can help you resist the urge to comfort-eat or eat out of sheer boredom (we’ve all been there!) It can also help to reduce your stress levels, so you can feel more positive and in control.
Tight on time? Run up and down a nearby set of stairs, do some jumping jacks, or make your business meeting a walking meeting in the local park.
Eat a good meal before you indulge
Sometimes, you just want to eat the damn slice of cake. In that case, go for it. But before you do indulge, make sure you’ve eaten a solid, balanced meal. Fill your plate with a good serve of protein, some healthy fats and plenty of vegetables.
After you’ve eaten that, then go ahead and eat the cake. While you do, make sure you savour every mouthful.
When you’re under chronic stress, your body will need some extra support to keep you going. Dr. Rebecca Farthing (osteopath & naturopath) can help you identify the areas you need help with and tailor an easy, nutritious food plan that will support you.