Advertisement

How can I keep stress from interfering with my nutrition?

Margaret Floyd
Nutrition & Dietetics
As Marc David, nutritionist, psychologist, and author of The Slow Down Diet (2005), explains, stress is the body's response to any threat, whether that threat is real or perceived. I believe the important word here is "perceived." The body mounts the same physiological response whether we're annoyed sitting in traffic or running away from a woolly mammoth. It might not be quite to the same degree, but the response is the same. And this response shuts down your digestion.

This means that if you're eating while under stress, your body will have a really difficult time digesting and absorbing that food. How many of us are eating under stress? Most of us. And to make matters worse, stress causes spikes in cortisol and insulin, hormones that tell our bodies to store fat.

The best and easiest way to minimize stress, especially while we're eating, is to sit down to eat, eat slowly, and actually be present for the meal. This might seem overly simple, but don't underestimate the power of eating a meal in a relaxed, calm state of mind, really savoring every mouthful and thoroughly enjoying the experience. So, if you're struggling to change what you eat, then start by changing how you eat.

Do you eat quickly? Try eating slowly. Put your fork down between bites, and don't pick it up again until you have completely chewed and swallowed the first mouthful. Take big breaths between bites.

Do you eat standing up or rushing out the door on your way to work? Take ten minutes to sit down to eat. Those ten minutes could be the difference between your breakfast satisfying you or leaving you hungry again in a couple of hours.

Do you notice what you're eating, or is eating part of your multitasking? Try really paying attention to the tastes, the flavors, and the experience of eating your food.

We are biologically wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain, and feeding ourselves, a deeply nourishing and sensual act, can be a vital part of that pleasure-seeking experience. If your body is looking for pleasure all day long and you're either not giving it any or you're so busy you didn't notice it, then it's going to keep looking for that pleasure. The primary way your body satisfies the need for pleasure is to tell you it's still hungry.
Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You

More About this Book

Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You

Eat Naked with Margaret Floyd for a Sexier You Are you fed up with counting calories? Confused by all the diet hype? Want to eat delicious, real food and look and feel great? Leading...

Continue Learning about Stress

Managing Stress with a Stick of This
Managing Stress with a Stick of This
Next time you are stressed and don't have cash for yoga or a massage, grab a stick of gum. The benefits of chewing gum include calming properties. A ...
Read More
How can I know if stress triggers my bipolar disorder symptoms?
John Preston, PsyDJohn Preston, PsyD
For many people with bipolar disorder, stress triggers symptoms, and if you're already experienc...
More Answers
12-Step Stress Management Plan
12-Step Stress Management Plan12-Step Stress Management Plan12-Step Stress Management Plan12-Step Stress Management Plan
Learn how to keep chronic stress from aging your body.
Start Slideshow
How Can I Monitor My Health Without Increasing My Stress Levels?
How Can I Monitor My Health Without Increasing My Stress Levels?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.