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Eat: Using Diet to Avoid Distress

According to Christine Bailey, nutritionist for Wellness Journal magazine, your diet can
stop stress from taking over. However, it’s important to note that not all stress is bad.
Eustress, for example, is interpreted as being good stress, as it helps to fuel and
motivate us. Conversely, distress can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing. In this
article, we will focus more specifically on how diet impacts feelings of distress.

Fight or Flight

Any physically, mentally, or emotionally stressful experience triggers the release of
hormones. The experience is often referred to as “fight or flight.” When we are in the
middle of a stressful experience, “our muscles tense, our heart beats faster, our
breathing and perspiration increases and we get that knotted feeling in our stomach,”
says Bailey. Once the stressful experience has subsided, the hormones are no longer
being released and our body’s system goes back to normal. If we often find ourselves in
stressful situations, this constant process will lead to health problems and impact what
we eat.

“Cut out the Cravings”

According to Bailey, “Our digestive system is one of the first places we notice the effects
of stress.” Our breathing increases rapidly when we are stressed, which can impact the
“passage of food through our gut, resulting in a range of symptoms including stomach
cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn.” Additionally, we often put physical
nourishment on the back burner and focus instead on what we are stressed about.
Some people forget to eat, while others eat the wrong things when they are stressed.
The hormones that are released trigger a response in us to reach for unhealthy

“comfort” foods.

Unfortunately, the more we consume these things, the stronger our subsequent cravings will be, perpetuating the unhealthy stress cycle. Making healthy food choices is
crucial, especially when stressed, to support the body’s ability to self-regulate. As a
result, cravings will decrease, making these decisions easier as time goes on.

“Eat Healthily, Eat Happily”

When you’re feeling stressed, everything is out of balance. One way to better your
mental health and general wellbeing is by identifying the stressors in your daily life.
Awareness is the first step towards change. Pay attention to what you’re eating. Notice
what foods you tend to reach for when you are feeling overwhelmed. Once you are
conscious of your patterns, you can put action plans in place to support healthier eating
habits. The better you eat, the better you will feel about yourself, leading to a happier

Food isn’t the only way to ease stress. Getting enough exercise and enough sleep are
two additional ways that you can cut down on the stress in your life. If you’re feeling
overwhelmed, you might not think you have time for sleep or exercise. Redirect your
thinking by reminding yourself that you can choose to make time for your health. Start
small and go from there. The results are sure to surprise you.

Foods That Help Relieve Stress

  • B vitamins
  •  Protein powder
  •  Vitamin C
  •  Minerals such as magnesium
  •  Green tea
  •  Oily fish
  •  Probiotics
  •  Herbs

Villa Tranquil Recovery is here to help you manage your stress. We are
committed to working with you towards cultivating healthy coping skills that will
support you on your recovery journey. One of the many ways we do this is by
offering nutritional support as you learn to practice eating habits to sustain a
balanced mind, body and spirit. Call us today at 866-697-7573 for more information about how we can help you!