It is no secret that life is a series of fast paced experiences. Keeping up with the roll coaster of life can often be exhausting and quite stressful. Stress may be induced for a variety of reasons and make it difficult to maintain and adhere to a healthy diet.
There is a scientific correlation between stress and the body’s natural physiological reaction. When stress levels increase, cortisol (the “stress hormone”) causes a series of changes in your body including:
- An increase in ghrelin (the hunger hormone)
- A decrease in insulin (the storage hormone)
- Increased blood sugar levels
- Increased abdominal fat
- Lower levels of “feel-good” hormones (i.e. serotonin)
- Increase in cravings
- Poor sleep quality
Factors such as sleep deprivation and long gaps between meals, examples of common reactions to stress, may also lead to increased levels of cortisol. However, no need to worry! Below are some helpful tips to manage eating habits during times of stress.
- Eat within 2 hours of waking
- Eat every 3-4 hours
- Do not eat within 2 hours of bedtime
- Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables (4-5 fistfuls) throughout the day to stay full and avoid excess calorie consumption
- Eat protein during meals and snacks to stay satisfied longer
- Hydrate well to keep yourself alert and feeling full (8-10 glasses a day)
A key to combating stress-induced eating is planning ahead. Pack healthy meals and snacks ahead of time so that you can grab it on the go. If you plan accordingly, you will find that there is always time for lunch when in a time crunch!