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Understanding the Relationship Between Stress & Eating Habits

“The doctor is the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” -Thomas Edison

Stress can cause a spiral of issues that relate to health and wellness, but we can help solve/prevent some of those with the food we eat- gut health and mental health being two of the most prominent.

It has been shown that when we are stressed we tend to crave processed foods, sweets and just junk in general which then can cause issues with our gut and digestion! We start missing out on any micronutrients our body needs, and then our hormones tend to get out of wack which can lead to a variety of mental health issues.

In the article Diet and Mental Health from the Mental Health Foundation, we can start to get a glimpse of the connection between our eating habits and mental health.

“Eating well (i.e. a well-balanced diet rich in vegetables and nutrients) may be associated with feelings of wellbeing. One 2014 study found high levels of wellbeing were reported by individuals who ate more fruit and vegetables 1.  A recent study found that a Mediterranean-style diet (a diet high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.) supplemented with fish oil led to a reduction in depression among participants, which was sustained six months after the intervention. 2.  The importance of good nutritional intake at an early age is explored in multiple studies, including a systematic review in 2014, which found that a poor diet (with high levels of saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and processed food products) is linked to poorer mental health in children and adolescents”.

And check out these other statistics from the same article linked below.

“Poor nutrition can lead to physical health problems such as obesity, though there are a number of demographic variables that could affect the direction and/or strength of the association with mental health including severity of obesity, socioeconomic status and level of education, gender, age and ethnicity.7  The relationship between obesity and mental health problems is complex.  Results from a 2010 systematic review found two-way associations between depression and obesity, finding that people who were obese had a 55% increased risk of developing depression over time, whereas people experiencing depression had a 58% increased risk of becoming obese. 8”

Read more here https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/d/diet-and-mental-health

So what are some things we can do? When you know a stressful time is coming or you are in the middle of one, I challenge you to take a step back and put yourself first and clean up your diet and sleep patterns! This doesn’t mean 100% prefect, but make a small goal of eating a vegetable with every meal, cut processed food, and give yourself a bedtime! You may still end up eating out (because we are humans and not perfect!) but make a conscious choice and pick the grilled chicken and steamed broccoli over the fried chicken with mashed potatoes and Mac n’ cheese! When we are stressed we we more than likely tired, and when we are tired we will more than likely over eat! See this post from Evelyn Anderson, FNP-C  on how many calories we could be over eating just because we are tired! https://www.instagram.com/p/BwuBnQBlaM7/?igshid=qbffme8vfnti

Let’s remember that food has more power to effect our lives than most other things we have control of!

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