Are you feeling the stress that many Kiwis are experiencing at the moment? While worries may be inevitable, you can keep your health and wellbeing robust by adopting some health promoting habits. In that vein, we got our sports nutritionist to create this helpful guide to keeping stress levels at bay.
The stress and nutrition connection
When you’re under stress – physical or emotional – your body switches into fight-or-flight mode, ready to fight off or flee from a predator. This short-term response is healthy, but when it lasts for a long time it puts the body under strain.
Sufficient vitamins and minerals help protect you from the negative effects of stress, however, for many people, stress and altered eating habits go hand-in-hand. But by making nutritious habits the norm, you are in good standing to bounce back in the face of stress.
It’s all about balance
Stressful moments are not the time to jump on the latest diet bandwagon – instead of giving up carbs or only eating cabbage soup, strive for balance. Try to ensure your daily diet consists of all three macronutrients: carbs, fats and protein. Eat a variety of foods and don’t feel guilty every time you indulge in a treat. Remember, it’s what you eat most of the time that matters, not what you eat occasionally.
Up your greens (and other colours too)
Green leafy vegetables are chock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will give your body what it needs to stand up to the draining effect of stress. Research by nutritionists has also shown that eating plenty of vegetables is linked to a more positive mood. And it’s not only greens – deep reds and purples, bright yellows and oranges will also do the trick.
When you’re dehydrated, your cortisol (stress hormone) levels increase. To stay hydrated, make sure you always have a water bottle within arm’s reach so it becomes second nature. If you don’t like plain water, try adding some frozen berries, a squeeze of lemon or a sprig of mint for some flavour.
A good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to arm yourself against stress and anxiety, yet sleep is often the first thing to suffer when you’re under the pump. It’s an unfair irony, but there are things you can do to promote better sleep. Avoid screens right before bed, try mindfulness or meditation and limit caffeine in the afternoons.
Ask for help
If you need a hand getting back on track, Body In Motion’s Tauranga nutritionist and dietitian is here to help. Book an appointment and we’ll help you find sustainable ways to stay resilient in the face of stress.