Too stressed to cook / eat / drink / stop eating…

Victoriano Izquierdo JG35CpZLfVs Unsplash

Too stressed to cook / eat / drink / stop eating…

or drinking or eating the ‘wrong’ foods? You’re not alone…

 

Rate your stress…

 

When clients come to see me I will typically ask how stressed they are on a scale of 1-10… This is either because they’re showing signs of stress or because they tell me that stress is making them ill in some way – and its affecting what they’re eating. You would be surprised at the number of people who admit to being extremely stressed on a very regular basis. And that’s WITHOUT social distancing and a lockdown… ! There is evidence* that stress is not only affecting our hearts but is also making us more prone to diabetes.

How stress affects you and what you eat…

One of the ways that stress impacts us nutritionally is in time; we may feel we don’t have TIME to make healthy, nutritious meals for ourselves (and in some cases for our families, too). But we need to *make* a bit of time .. If you’ve already planned what you’re eating for each meal and maybe each snack too, you are less likely to reach for a soft drink or keep opening the biscuit tin for a fast snack to give you a ‘lift.’

It’s not all about over-eating either – stress can mean we perceive that we are too busy to make or eat any food at all… This is unhelpful for the body as starving the body for several hours during the working day because you feel you have no time to eat lunch isn’t going help anyone’s performance in the (home) office… I am also not surprised by people saying they’re too stressed to notice that they’re not actually drinking any water throughout the day. Headache & constipation, anyone? We need to recognise poor eating habits such as these and put some better stress support in place for ourselves.

I hope my readers have a bit of time this lockdown to consider their stress levels, think around how they deal with stress, and whether they think their nutrition suffers as a result and ultimately – what they might be able to do about it.

 

Some tips on eating and snacking the right way – when working at home…

 

1) Insist on taking at least 15 minutes to sit down without screens, work or other distractions (family members and pets – well you can’t get away from them at the moment, can you?!) to eat and really enjoy your lunch. Chew your food, savour it – don’t gobble it and risk indigestion spoiling your afternoon. We all do better after a short break, especially if you’re doing something really intense. If you don’t really enjoy your lunch – a surprising number of people tell me this! Make a conscious effort to prepsome food you actually enjoy. Be prepared. Also it makes being home school teacher AND worker that little bit more bearable…

2) Take your daily walk at lunchtime instead of after work – you’ll get more Vitamin D rays around lunchtime and plus it will help you to clear your head ready for the afternoon’s activities.

3) Ensure you have some decent healthy snacks around with you so that you’re less tempted by your the biscuit / sweets tin then you can safely dip into your box of nuts and fruit. You could have some oatcakes to hand and have a couple with some houmous or nut butter if you feel peckish mid-afternoon; or try guacamole with crudités. The protein will help you make it through until dinner time with out opening the fridge again…. Sugary snacks would just leave you with an unhelpful sugar crash somewhere in the late afternoon when you’re frantically trying to wrap up the day’s work.

4) Don’t forget the fluids. Have a jug of bottle of fresh water by your work area and sip throughout the day. Don’t be tempted by squash (or a stream of of coffees) – squash will just supply needless sugar and artificial sweeteners which will just leave you feeling hungry again a while later. Add some orange / lemon slices to your water to make it really refreshing. Keep hydrated – research shows school children perform better at school when they’ve drunk water – so it should apply to their parents and pseudo-teachers too!

5) Plan your meals! If you don’t know what’s for lunch or dinner you are more likely to pick’ random, potentially non-filling foods leaving you unsatisfied, and more likely to choose less healthy foods, and especially vegetables…

It looks like lockdown is here to stay at least for many office workers so it seems sensible to factor in a bit of meal planning at the weekend, at the very least…

 

Also – 8 tips to deal with stress at work – & what happens to your digestion when you’re stressed

*‘Job strain as a risk factor for the onset of type 2 diabetes mellitus…’ Psychosom Med. 2014 Sep