The Herald – February 2015
“Eat Well to Avoid Crash and Burn”Fiona Montague knows all about nutrition as she has her own business – www.healthandnutrition.ie. Based in Kildare, the mother of two says while she has never had a particularly stressful job, she did turn to food and alcohol when her father died – so has first-hand experience of how stress can cause people to neglect their physical health
“Stress is one of the most common health problems today and whether it is as a result of a high-powered job, the death of a loved one or the day-to-day strains of running a home, the impact on our lives is much the same.
When my dad died suddenly three years ago, the stress and reality of it became all too much and without even realising it, I turned to food and drink as a comfort. The instant high from sugary foods temporarily helped to alleviate the pain and stress and before I knew it, my happiness was reliant on what I was consuming.
Similarly I’ve had numerous clients come to me unable to lose weight. They had tried every diet but they didn’t work. When we analysed what was actually going on, stress (at work or at home) was always a key factor.
It became too consuming and they found themselves grabbing something to eat and getting on with the task that was stressing them in the first place. Nutrition, food and nourishing themselves didn’t come into it as they just needed to fill an empty hole.
Our inability to cope with stress has us turning to instant fixes; numerous cups of coffee during the day to keep us upbeat and ready for the day ahead; convenience meals full of sugar, fat and salt as we are too busy to cook for ourselves or the need to relax with a glass of alcohol in the evening.
In an attempt to relieve our stress, we have become reliant on the wrong food. The result being our energy levels fluctuate, we lose concentration, we become irritable, “brain fog” sets in and our moods become unstable. But what most don’t realise is, with our stress levels on a constant high and our reliance on sugary foods increasing, our blood sugar levels rise too quickly, insulin is released to cope with this overload and the excess sugar in our bloodstream is stored for energy for later.
The problem is, we rarely go back to our store of energy as are already reaching out for our next ‘fix’, that energy is now converted to fat.
So it is imperative that during stressful periods we watch what we consume. There is often very little we can do about external situations so it is important we do as much as we can not to exasperate the situation by allowing what we consume take over our moods and energy too.
• Find foods that boost your energy naturally.
• Avoid caffeine.
• Take 20 minutes for yourself each day.
• Relax before meals.
• Avoid TV and PC at night – one hour before bed.
• Go to bed at a reasonable time, even if you’re not tired, and learn to relax – read a book.
• Never miss breakfast as you’ll end up snacking.
During stressful periods in our lives, we put our bodies under massive strains as we deplete our nutritional stores in an attempt to cope with life around us. If we don’t have a healthy foundation to begin with or are existing on convenience foods, we will quickly crash and burn.”