As we have discussed previously, diet can play a huge role in either helping or hindering our stress levels. Recently we looked at some foods that can help with reduction of stress, in this post we are going to look at foods you should be avoiding if stress reduction is your goal.
Bizarrely enough, when we are stressed most people tend to crave exactly the foods that you should be avoiding if you want to bring that stress under control. These foods tend to be high in fats, sugars and salt as these help to increase the body’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The other possible side effect of course is that these unhealthy foods lead to weight gain and symptoms such as high blood pressure, causing more stress!
Here are of the top foods to avoid in order to achieve stress reduction;
1. Energy Drinks or Soda
These high-calorie drinks may be tempting to reach for if you are stressed and feeling like you need an energy boost, but in reality they will leave your body in a worse state than it was before. Energy drinks usually contain caffeine as well as high sugar levels, so not only will you experience the jitters that can be brought on by caffeine, you get a sugar crash as well. These factors coupled with possible lack of sleep due to the caffeine will only serve to increase your stress levels.
Often the beverage of choice when we are under stress but again, this will do you no good in the end despite possible temporary mellow feelings. Alcohol is a depressant which has been shown to alter brain chemistry. Stressed or depressed people who reach for the alcohol have been found over the longer term to need more and more of it in order to feel any better.
3. Spicy Foods
Whether a good hot vindaloo is your favorite or not; if you are under serious stress it has been found that your metabolism significantly slows down. This means that it is a longer, more difficult process for your food to digest which can lead to problems such as acid reflux. Consuming spicy food can exacerbate this condition so it is recommended that you avoid it.
4. Fast Foods
Yep, we’re talking about the ‘unhealthy’ fast foods out there, full of fats, salt and sugar, not to mention all the unknown man-made chemicals and preservatives. These types of foods are difficult for your body to digest and will leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable. While they may temporarily settle a need to ‘comfort’ eat, this is short-lived compared to the discomfort and possible weight-gain or hypertension later on.
5. Chocolate, Candy and other sugary foods
Sugary foods are another staple often reached for when we are stressed. However, apart from their link with weight gain, obesity and diabetes, sugary foods can have the effect of spiking your insulin levels then crashing your blood sugar to lower levels than before. This can lead to irritability and even more food cravings.
If you need to achieve a reduction of stress, looking at your diet is a great place to start. Make sure you are stocked up on healthy choices that can improve your stress levels and avoid any of the foods on this list. Not only can you achieve lower stress levels but a healthier body as well.