The Important Connection Between Nutrition and Stress Management

stress and pain

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably accepted stress as a fact of life. Whether meeting work deadlines, staying on top of family obligations, or worrying about the unexpected, you’ve probably heard or read that there are tips to help manage your stress. But have you considered that stress management should take into account what you eat?

Nutrition plays a crucial part in the amount of stress we experience daily. Certain foods and nutrients can even raise or lower our stress responses. If you want to get a better handle on how you cope with life’s uncertainties, learn how you can use nutrition to live a more relaxed and balanced life.

Nutrition-Based Tips for Lowering Your Stress

You should never take stress lightly. Chronic stress is a condition that deserves serious attention and may require a whole-body approach to treat. However, improvements to what and how you eat can make a difference in the amount of stress you experience and how you handle it. Here are some ways to use nutrition to control or lower your stress:

  • Maintain a healthy diet. Each meal should include items from various food groups. The most important are vegetables and fat. Many people do not do well with grains, fruits and animal protein. Make sure your plate has a variety of rich colors, typical of whole foods with the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to regulate emotions and stress hormones.
  • Avoid or limit processed foods and sugars. These foods may give you a quick energy boost, which is soon followed by a crash, feeding the stress you already have.
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can increase stress, so get plenty of liquids throughout the day.
  • Pack in the protein. Go for non-farmed fish, tree nuts, legumes, and some grass fed meats. These protein sources contain amino acids that stimulate the production of dopamine and serotonin, which are good for your mood.
  • Consume complex carbohydrates. These should be mostly vegetables. Avoid simple carbs, fructose, corn syrup, and starches like potato, corn, and tapioca.
  • Include omega-3 fatty acids. Try fatty fish like sardines and salmon, or find ways to use flaxseeds, walnuts, and chia seeds in your cooking. These foods have been found to lower stress. You can also take omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
  • Go for foods rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants combat the harm to our bodies from oxidative stress, which can cause general stress. Try broccoli, berries, citrus, and spinach to increase your antioxidant consumption.
  • Limit or avoid caffeine and alcohol. Although coffee and other caffeinated beverages may boost energy, they can increase restlessness and anxiety. Also, alcohol can cause mood swings and interfere with restful sleep.
  • Engage in mindful eating. How often have you sat down for a meal only to have it disappear in seconds? When you eat, pay attention to the flavors and textures. Slowing down and enjoying your food can be relaxing. Also, avoid using food to self-medicate or cope with stress, boredom, or other negative emotions.
  • Add supplements to your diet. When getting all the nutrients you need from food is difficult, supplements can help. For example, magnesium calms the nervous system and relaxes muscles. You can also try Dr. Blatman’s Stress and Relax Formula to help with sleep.

Nutrition Counseling at a Holistic Health Clinic to Manage Stress

It’s important to understand the powerful connection between nutrition and stress. In many cases, making a few dietary adjustments will yield positive changes in your stress levels. However, if maintaining healthy nutrition is a challenge for you, consider nutrition counseling at an integrative medical practice.

At Blatman Health and Wellness Center, we can help you identify stress triggers and avoid stress-inducing foods. We’ll also create an individualized nutrition plan and recommend dietary supplements for mental and physical well-being.

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