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Stress and Your Diet

How Does Your Diet Affect Your Stress Level?

Stress Pitfalls Related to Diet!

There are a few common pitfalls that stress brings which are related to your diet. Are you guilty of skipping meals, giving in to your cravings for fatty, sugary foods, or do you rely on caffeine to give you a boost when you’re particularly low? You are not alone. It is something that we all do when we are under stress, often unconsciously.

When your stress levels are high you often struggle to sleep properly which increases your probability of making bad diet choices, as fatigue is often disguised as hunger and cravings for junk. Even though you experience a crash afterward, you still go back for more because you know it’s the quick and easy way to get a lift that you desperately need.

Meal Skipping.

By skipping breaks and meals, you’re putting more stress on your body by allowing your blood sugar levels to drop. If you’re already stressed out, you’re simply compounding the stress. Your adrenal glands support you during stress, and if they are particularly strong, you’ll probably escape too much punishment if you skip a meal or two (on occasion).

However, if they have become fatigued as a result of chronic stress then you’re putting even more stress on them by missing mealtimes. Your adrenal glands also happen to secret that stress hormone (cortisol) and help maintain glucose levels. It all goes to work against you when you are under stress and heaping more stress on your system.

The best thing you can do to counteract this is to have healthy snacks handy at all times. That way if you miss a meal, you can at least fuel up on a healthy snack like nuts. It’s not the ideal option, but it helps.

Fatty, Sugary Foods.

You already know that foods, which are packed with sugars and fats aren’t good for your health. It’s especially true when you’re under stress. Unfortunately, this is when you are most likely to crave these foods and it’s difficult to overcome those cravings when you are at your lowest (both mood wise and energy levels). All you’re doing by indulging these cravings is giving yourself a false high and you will then suffer the crashing lows that come with it.


Yes, caffeinated beverages are delicious, and coffee happens to have a wide variety of health benefits. However, overindulging in caffeine is only going to feed your stress levels. Just like those fatty, sugary foods, you will get the initial boost, which will be followed by a crash.

Stress Eating – Eating Behind Stress.

The hormones that stress unleashes often push people to overeat and it’s always the worst types of foods, too.

This may explain why it’s common for those dealing with chronic stress to gain weight. In fact, it should come as no surprise that in a survey from the American Psychological Association over 50% of Americans report high levels of stress.

If you don’t deal with chronic stress, think about the time you have been extremely stressed out. You probably had difficulty sleeping, you may have smoked more than normal or picked up the habit, you very likely increase your alcohol intake, started drinking more caffeinated beverages, and there’s every chance you overate fatty and sugary foods at every chance.

Stress can end your appetite in the short term, but over the long term, your cortisol level is essentially jammed at on the switch. Therefore, even though the stressful situation is gone, and your cortisol levels should return to normal they haven’t, they’re still elevated, wreaking havoc.

Stress tends to dictate your food preferences, too, and sadly, countless studies have found that experiencing distress will cause you to seek foods that are high in sugar, fat, or both. When stress dictates your diet, affects your sleep, leaves you less likely to exercise, and increases your alcohol intake it is no wonder that people gain weight during times of chronic stress.

Gender may also play a role with women being more likely to seek comfort in food, while men are more likely to pick up cigarettes and drink alcohol. Additionally, a study from Finland indicates that women are more likely to suffer from obesity as a result of stress eating than men (Psychosocial factors at work and obesity among young Finish adults: a cohort study, Jääskeläinen, et al).

If you are guilty of snacking on unhealthy foods because of stress, then there are some steps you can take to help curb this nasty habit. You may be surprised to see how much weight you lose just by making these small changes.

Start exercising regularly. Not only will it distract you from the need to snack, but a low-intensity workout will decrease your cortisol levels. You’ll also experience a life in mood, and you can curb the temptation to give into your cravings. Of course, this will also help you on the weight loss front.

Yoga/Meditation. We know that these are excellent for reducing stress levels. They also contribute to improved mental health and mindful meditation can help guide you to make healthier food choices.

Social network. Having a strong social network can provide you with a buffer from stress. This is because a strong support network improves your mental health.

Foods That Elevate Stress.

Therefore, you know now that there are a variety of habits that can increase your stress levels, and stress is more likely to have you turning to unhealthy options. What foods, though, are the worst for elevating your stress levels? Learn more. Claim Your FREE copy of The Complete Guide to the Right and Wrong Foods for Optimal Stress Management

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