I bet you’ve heard that things like therapy, meditation, exercise, and good sleep can help with stress. But did you know that your diet can also play a big role? A recent study out of China, showed that fried/greasy food can contribute to a higher risk of Anxiety and Depression. In this post, we’ll go over three ways nutrition affects stress levels and how you can manage stress through your diet.
- Severely Cutting Calories Can Cause Stress
- First, did you know that severely cutting calories can cause stress? Both mentally and physically. While it’s okay to eat a bit less than your body needs, cutting too much for a long time can cause many problems. This is especially true for athletes or people with a lot of physical demands on their bodies, those who take certain medications, or those who experience changes in their eating habits. If you’re already feeling super stressed out and want to lose weight, focusing on stress management and improving sleep might be better before cutting calories. But don’t worry. You can still progress by eating whole foods and focusing on mindful eating instead of smaller portions while you work on reducing stress.
- Highly Processed Foods Can Be Major Stressors
- Next, let’s talk about the stress caused by highly processed foods. They’re usually loaded with sugar, fat, and salt and can even harm your gut health. Eating a lot of these foods can cause inflammation in your body and be a major stressor, as recently highlighted by the study out of China with French Fries. So, while it’s okay to enjoy some treats occasionally, it’s important to focus on eating whole, minimally processed foods as much as possible.
- Obsessing Over “Perfect” Diets Can Cause More Stress
- Finally, let’s talk about the way we think about food. Obsessing over eating “perfect” or “clean” diets can actually cause more stress. It’s important to take a more flexible approach to nutrition and aim for progress instead of perfection. Focus on making less processed choices most of the time, but also allow yourself the occasional indulgence without guilt. This is also true with your training. Consistently being better or improving over the long term yields better results than being perfect short-term and takes less effort (though more patience).
By taking a flexible approach to nutrition and stress management, you can reach your health and fitness goals while maintaining overall well-being. Don’t stress too much about perfection – just focus on small daily improvements.