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Eat Well...Stress Less!

Written by Stephanie Scott, RD, LMNT
April 1, 2018

April is stress awareness month.   Everyone experiences stress in their life.  Some kinds of stress is good, but other kinds can be bad, and too much stress for long periods of time can cause health problems.   43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress, including: heartburn, headaches, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and insomnia.  Many people find relief from stress by indulging in a special treat or beverage, usually high in fat and sugar, and low in nutrients.  But why do we turn to these foods in times of turmoil?  They taste good and are satisfying and comforting to us.  But turning toward unhealthy foods in times of stress, or “stress eating” is an unhealthy way of coping with stress.  It can contribute to other health problems like weight gain and lead to even more stress.  

So lower your stress by eating well and getting regular physical activity.  Eating 3 healthy meals with 1-3 nutritious snacks each day and getting 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week can help lower stress and improve your health.  Aim to include foods high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein and foods low in fat and sugar.  The ChooseMyPlate illustration is a great way to remind you to eat healthy. 

Choose:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains (100% whole wheat bread or pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, barley)
  • Lean proteins (lean meats, poultry without the skin, beans, eggs, nuts and seeds)
  • Fat-free or reduced fat dairy products  ( 8oz cup of skim milk, 6oz low-fat yogurt, or 1oz low-fat cheese)

Fruits and vegetables should fill up half your plate at meals.  They are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are essential for life.  Aim to make half of your grains whole grains, which have more fiber, vitamins, and minerals to help your body work correctly.  Choosing low-fat proteins like lean meats, poultry without the skin, and low-fat or fat free dairy products will lower your calorie intake and better manage cholesterol levels.  Plus, your body needs these proteins to support growth and maintain muscle mass.  Choosing low-fat or fat-free dairy products three times a day will also give your body key nutrients like vitamin D and calcium for strong bones and teeth.

Limit:

  • Foods high in added sugars (soda, desserts, ice cream, candy)
  • High sodium foods (salt, bacon, luncheon meats, frozen T.V. dinners, canned soups)
  • Fried foods (French fries, onion rings, chicken nuggets, battered fish)
  • Processed meats (hot dogs, bacon, salami, pepperoni, bologna)

These foods are high in calories, fat, and sugar and can cause health problems similar to stress like high blood pressure and blood sugar as well as weight gain, high cholesterol, and higher risk of heart attack or stroke. 

So eat well to stress less!  If you would like more information about healthy eating, call Stephanie Scott RD, LMNT at 308-946-5913 or send her an email at Stephanie.scott@mmclifecare.org.

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