Have you ever done a google search to see if there are any foods that help you to manage stress. You don’t need to look far to find these articles, but I would challenge you to think about the scientific validity or the facts being presented. I would also like to challenge you to think about food and stress in a slightly different way. Rather than trying to find foods that lower stress in the body, what if we took one step back and asked ourselves:
“Why am I looking to food to reduce my stress levels?”
Stress and eating are often closely connected for many people. You may either be someone who loses their appetite and forgets to eat when stress creeps into your life, or you may find yourself in the other camp of using food as a tool to soothe or reward yourself during times of increased stress. While these responses to stress are completely normal, it is essential that you take some time to reflect on whether they are impeding the health goals you have set for yourself.
Take some time to reflect on the following 5 questions:
- Am I missing meals throughout the day or going longer than 3-4 hours without eating?
- Do I every experience physical symptoms such as nausea, loss of appetite or a change in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation) thus leading me to skip meals or avoid certain foods?
- Do I have a list of “comfort foods” that I am consistently craving during periods of stress or increased pressure?
- Have I developed health concerns over the past 1-2 years related to increased snacking when I don’t feel physically hungry?
- Do I use food as a coping mechanism after a stressful day or situation within work or my personal life?
If any of these questions resonate with you, an important step we would encourage you to take is to speak with a Registered Dietitian and/or psychologist to ensure you have strategies in place to manage stress in a manner that supports all aspects of your life. Food is meant to fuel your body and ensure you have energy to get through all of life’s higher stress moments (or days), positively contributing to your health and long term goals.