Stress & Weight Are Like Oil & Water
by Rochelle Griffin
Stress. We ALL have it. It’s part of our every day life. As we’ve evolved as a culture, life has increasingly become more connected, faster paced, and generally crazy. Stress causes so many physical issues for all of us: weight gain, insomnia, depression, digestive problems, skin problems, etc. It’s true. Before we can even explore what this means, you have to understand the body’s mechanisms for handling stress.
For a moment, I’m going to put my RN hat on and give you a quick anatomy & physiology lesson.
Our body is very intricate and one body process affects another. When we are stressed, our body reacts by releasing a hormone called cortisol from the adrenal glands. Cortisol is considered one of the “flight or fight” hormones and actually gives us energy. If threats are imminent, this is a good thing that can save our life. Reality is, however, that almost always, it’s not an imminent life-threatening act that is causing the cortisol to be released.
Over time, cortisol actually breaks down muscle tissue, and when released often enough, it causes us to feel fatigued. When our cortisol levels remain high because of chronic stress, our body switches from using our long-term energy consumption (fat stores) to quick energy release (sugar.) Thus we crave carbs (think of all the foods that you may crave from time to time…donuts, chips, ice cream) to fulfill our body’s need for sugar. At the same time, our body begins to store the fat that is no longer being used as fuel.
I’ve basically given you the easy-to-understand version, but please know that our bodies are actually way more complex than what I’ve described.
So back to stress…there are actually different types of stress…some of it is even considered good stress. Depending on which source you look at, some feel that there are 2 different types while others consider there to be 3 or 4 types. To simplify things, let’s look at 2 types: good and bad. Good is the kind that…well…does the body good. For example, exercise is a good stress…so is the kind of stress that helps us perform and achieve goals. Bad, on the other hand, has absolutely NO use in our life. All it does is produce anxiety. Unfortunately it’s estimated that 60% of stress in our life is the bad, unproductive type.
Now is the part that may…and should…shock you. Of all the different things that make up bad stress in our life, NUTRITIONAL STRESS consists of approximately 70% of it! In plain language, this means that we are putting such nutrient-deficient foods into our body that we lack what is necessary to regenerate effectively. It becomes a vicious cycle because our weaker body then causes us more stress.
The question becomes WHAT do we do about it? Well, when it comes to nutritional stress, you have 100% control. You CHOOSE what you put into your body. You CHOOSE whether or not to educate yourself. The task may seem daunting, but I’m here to help you wade through all of the information out there. We will be looking more closely at nutritional stress over the next several weeks.
Here are some easy tips that you can do NOW to reduce the stress-effect on your body:
- Eat breakfast– You have been fasting all night long and your body needs to energy. You will stabilize your blood sugar and your brain will thank you. My favorite breakfast either 1 cup hot rice cereal cooked, 3 tbsp walnuts, 1 tbsp organic maple syrup, and ½ cup of berries or a glass of Shakeology.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store– The perimeter is where you will find the healthy, fresh, whole foods that your body craves. Note that I said your BODY. If you are in the midst of stress, you may think you want carbs because of the old foe, cortisol…remember? Don’t be tricked.
- Exercise– Physical activity for an hour a day, 6 days per week will help combat the bad stress and replace it with good.
- Eat a variety of whole foods, complex carbohydrates, and protein– By eating a variety of foods, you are providing your body with a wide-range of nutrients. Choose from fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other sources. Refined foods, unfortunately, are a main cause of nutritional stress. Buyer beware!
- Wean yourself from coffee– No, I’m not asking you to stop altogether. Simply cut back from the amount that you drink now. If you normally drink 2 cups a day, drink 1. Caffeine has proven, time and time again, to amp up our nervous system and have a negative effect on our body. I have fallen in love with Dandy’s Blend, an herbal coffee substitute. As a former coffeeholic, I can honestly say I feel so much better being caffeine-free.
Remember, stress in our life is inevitable. It’s a testament that we are alive. We have to learn ways to combat it and use it to our advantage. Because nutrition is the main source of bad stress and is something that we have control of, we have the ability to sooth our adrenal glands without medication. Make ONE small change today. One small change can lead to several small changes and several small changes can change your life.
To Living Your Best Life,
Rochelle Griffin, RN BSN FDN-P
Rochelle Griffin, The Wellness Detective™, is a Registered Nurse (with over 22 years experience) & a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition™ Practitioner who has transitioned her love for fitness, health, & freedom into a 7-figure International company that now helps others live Their Best Life.
She founded Your Best Life, Inc with her husband Keith after stepping onto the edge of physical ruin with her health & the health of their young son. Having experienced a complete turn-around, they now desire to give hope & support to those who are dissatisfied with their current situation.
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