They don’t call it comfort food for nothing. But when a bunch of Brits gathered together to participate in an eating habits study, they discovered that comfort foods turn into stressors fast. Sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and chocolate (all migraine “trigger foods,” by the way) stimulate your body. That can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, not to mention cause your insulin levels to get out of wack, stressing your cardio-vascular system and your brain. Yikes!
If you’re part of the yo-yo group that eats empty calories to reduce stress, then feels stressed again an hour later, some of these tips might help:
- Plan your meals. This is something you could do on the weekend for the following week. Then make a list of what you need (cross off the donuts and cookies right now, dude), and take it to the store with you.You’ll have good food, not just junk, on hand to eat when stress strikes. Come on: anyone can peel a banana. The trick is to have one close at hand.
- Kick caffeine. How many times do we need to hear this? The boost doesn’t last long, and then you’re looking for more.
- Eat three regular meals, or better still, three small meals and three healthy snacks each day. (Notice: this is NOT the same as Taco Bell’s infamous fourth meal) Don’t skip meals, and make breakfast a priority. If you skip breakfast your blood sugar might drop, and that’s BAD.
- Snack healthy. We all love our fries and shakes, but if you’re trying to eat well, take a pass. Instead eat unbuttered popcorn, a banana or vegetables. I know, it’s the carrot sticks thing again, but the truth is the truth. Nuts work also, but in small amounts.
- Try tea. Herbal teas have been shown to help reduce stress. Brands such as lemon and lavender add an aromatherapy aspect as well.
- Boost your energy. Instead of empty calories, eat small amounts of protein, like chicken, eggs, cheese and meat. Emphasis here is on SMALL, and the meat must be naked. No gooey white buns and mayonnaise allowed (see below).
- Walk away from what’s white. White food generally contains refined starches that don’t do much for you. Eat wheat bread instead of white, sweet potatoes instead of white, whole wheat pasta instead of white . . . you get the idea. And avoid those creamy white sauces, which are generally full of fat that will clog and log.
- Aim for balance. We can’t say it enough: eat protein and high fiber in all of your meals and snacks.