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Dieting Your Way to Stress Management

Dieting Your Way to Stress Management

You may notice that you reach for the potato chips when a television program becomes particularly frightening.  Or you grab the crackers at work when you learn that you’ll have to handle a new project.  You may also nibble on candy bars when you’re having difficulty controlling your children.  These eating patterns are all a reaction to stress.

Stress plays an important part in our daily diet.  In fact, a great deal of overeating has been attributed to stress.  However, it is also true that your diet can have an impact on stress.  There are certain foods that tend to worsen our stress levels.  A number of these foods fall into the category of stimulants.

Of course, the best-known stimulant is caffeine.  You’ll find it not only in coffee, but in soft drinks, tea, and chocolate.  Your heart beat races, as does your mind, when you are served a significant amount of caffeine.  Caffeine consumption may even be connected to high blood pressure.   However, you might not want to cut out caffeine entirely all at once.  A gradual reduction will help lessen your withdrawal symptoms.

Consuming alcohol can also increase your stress level.   It leads to the production of adrenaline, which can cause you to have difficulty sleeping.  You might also experience a feeling of tension as a result of your alcohol intake.  In addition, alcohol makes it more difficult for the body to get rid of toxins.  Smoking is also quite dangerous, increasing hypertension and leading to heart disease.

Chances are you will experience a great deal of stress after eating sugar.  This is because this sweet substance can exhaust the adrenal glands, leading to depression and irritability.  While some people tend to reach for sugar cookies when they are feeling stressed, the irony is that sugar-filled snacks can actually make you feel even more stressed out.

Salt and fat are two substances that can increase your stress level.  Salt, for instance, raises the blood pressure, causing an individual to feel as if his or her emotions are out of control.  As a result, you should not eat high-salt foods such as ham or sausage.  Meanwhile, consuming fat can put strain on the cardiovascular system, leading to more stress.   In general, you should avoid highly processed food, which tends to be sparse in nutritional value.

If you want to get your stress level under control, consider a diet that is rich in whole foods, fruits, and vegetables.  These are natural stress-busters, filled with nutrients that will help you to feel good over the long run.  Also, these foods are far less likely to result in weight gain—another significant cause of stress.   Some dieticians recommend eating a diet that is 65 to 70 percent raw in order to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of nutrients—nutrients which could be otherwise lost during the cooking process.

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