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Stress…The food and mood connection

Posted Aug 02 2011 2:57pm

Good morning everyone!  Hope your day is off to a great start so far!  I loved reading all your comments yesterday regarding living in the present moment.  I also received a wonderful comment from my mom saying that “as each day goes by, I will be even better prepared for this special moment of us getting pregnant.”  Everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for us, so I’m just going to relax and go with the flow (ha, no pun intended ;) ).

I started off my morning with a 6am spin class and then I rushed straight home to watch my recorded episode of The Bachelorette before work.  Ha, yes I know I’m crazy but I really wanted to see the finale because I knew I would somehow come across the results on the internet and I didn’t want any spoilers!  And I admit, I was definitely rooting for the guy that she chose…he is a cutie patootie and the way he looked at her just screamed love…and I don’t know what came over me but I even got a lil teary eyed at the end…they just looked so happy and in love and I’m a hopeless romantic so I truly hope they stay together :)

Anyway, enough with senseless reality television, I want to talk about stress and how food correlates to your mood.  I’ve been communicating with a lovely reader of mine and as I was talking with her about stress, it got me thinking about how I used to cope with stress in my past.  At the first notion of stress in my life, the first thing I needed to happen was get the control back and the voices in my head told me to restrict and overexercise.  My disordered eating would rear its ugly head when stress entered my life and when I didn’t want to face my emotions or what was bothering me at that time.  The only way I felt I could deal with these emotions, was by resorting to unhealthy habits and the cycle would just continue.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I started dealing with stress in a healthier manner, but I do remember it started once I began eating healthier, balanced meals.  The very thing (food) that frightened me and gave me so much anxiety, was actually making me feel better, less stressed, and more energized.  Which brings me to an article my mother recently gave me, “The Food and Mood Connection” .  It describes how our diets can be a part of the equation to reducing stress, and it explains how combining carbs (once a phobia of mine) and proteins enhances the availability of serotonin in your brain, which is said to have calming effects.  No wonder I was feeling better once I was allowing myself to eat these foods again!

It also says that simply knowing you are taking care of yourself can boost your mood.  And I definitely agree with that…this disorder goes far and beyond what I looked like because deep down I so badly wanted to gain to a healthy weight and look like my healthy self again.  The mind is a powerful thing, and it was the voices and anxiety that was harder than anything else to overcome.  Through the years, once I started eating normally again and exercised less, I inherently felt happier and good about myself.  My skin was more supple and brighter, my cheeks were fuller and not so drawn in, my hair was shinier and thicker, I could think more clearer, and I felt more alive on the inside.  I was not only seeing results on the outside, but was feeling a shift of my mind going to a healthier state.  Healing the mind to a healthier state, is solving the biggest piece of the puzzle…once you have that in control, you are fighting and winning that battle.

It’s interesting how once something I used as a way to control my life, was inherently making me feel more stressed and out of control.  So if you’re struggling, imagine that eating a balanced, nutritious diet is not about the calories or a fear of carbs making you gain weight…remind yourself instead that it’s a feeling it will give you on the inside and that you’re healing your body.  In the end, you will feel less stressed and even more in control of your life.  And the next time you do feel stressed, learn new ways to cope with it.  Now when I’m faced with stress, I turn to a favorite (positive) blog of mine and read about her day, or I read a girly book, take a yoga class (which I need to do more of!), or talk/email a friend or family member.  Learning new ways to cope with stress, will make you feel more calm and clear about life and will allow you to continue on this healthy journey.

On that note, let’s get to my eats for yesterday and this morning!  By the way, I hope my food isn’t getting too boring for you all!  You know I’m a Creature of Habit and tend to love eating the same things all the time…and we’re trying to stick to a strict grocery budget so that lends to not many innovative and creative dishes.  I just hope to show you all that healthy and nutritious food can be fun, yummy, and somewhat “indulgent” too! :)

Lunch: I was feeling another yogurt bowl and had to use the last of the strawberries since they were on their last leg…

1 cup Fage yogurt, strawberries, and Peanut Butter Puffins. Side of roasted red bell peppers and zucchini.

Speaking of Peanut Butter Puffins, I’ve had quite a few inquiries as to what these delicious puffins are so here they are…

Click on this link, Peanut Butter Puffins , to be directed to their site and find more flavors and products! Side note: On their site they have a Puffin Chocolate & Peanut Butter flavor…wowza, must try that stat!

At Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, you can find them in your regular cereal isle.  However at other grocery stores such as Safeway, they’re located in their organic health isle so it all depends on which grocery store you go to.  If you get ‘em, please let me know how you like them…we could all start a Puffin Fan Club ;)

Dinner: Again, needed to use up avocado’s, produce, and turkey in our fridge so I went with a salad beast…

Breakfast: After spin class I was more than ready to eat, so I was very happy that I had prepped my overnight oats last night…breakfast was ready and waiting for me to eat up!

I promise the goods are under there…

Peek-a-boo! There they are :) Side note: Need a manicure fill, stat!

I hope you’re all having a great day so far and I’ll see you all tomorrow :)

Questions: Do you resort to unhealthy habits when you’re stressed (i.e. alcohol, less sleep, restrict calories, overexercise, etc.)?  What are your methods for combating stress?  What are your thoughts and observations on food and mood?


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