Stress is unavoidable! From work deadlines and projects, family drama, social events, and the day to day grind, there will always be times of anxiety, tension, and negative emotions that can lead to stress. However, the way you choose to manage it determines whether or not it will affect your overall energy, mood, and health.
April is Stress Awareness Month, so how do you combat stress? With breathing & muscle relaxation exercises? … stretching or exercise? … massage or yoga? … meditation or reading? The list of stress reduction techniques is endless and really depend on the individual.
Here’s some key nutrition tips to best set yourself up for a successful, high-energy, and stress-free day:
- Eat a breakfast high in PROTEIN & FIBER– you’ll be less drowsy and energized from the start of the day, and it’ll help prevent you from feeling a midafternoon crash, overeating at dinner, and choosing unhealthy snacks later on. Choose a veggie omelet; oatmeal or Greek yogurt with berries, nuts, and fruit; whole grain toast with nut butter and fruit; or whole wheat cereal with berries and milk.
- Eat more FRUITS & VEGETABLES – produce is JAM-PACKED with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and delicious flavor. I can’t say enough good stuff about eating your 5-a-day. Make sure to choose a variety of colors each week as well! Fruits & veggies are your best source of natural energy to take on the toughest stressors.
- Eat HOMEMADE MEALS often – fast food is indeed a quick meal, but it is detrimental to the day! Fast food tends to have higher levels of unhealthy fats, sodium, and sugar – which aren’t the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy! Higher levels of sugar puts your metabolism under stress, causes big drops in blood sugar, leads to poor cognitive performance, and leaves you feeling grumpy, fatigued, and craving more sugar… it’s an endless cycle! While there can be healthy fast food options, with meal prepping at home for lunches and dinner, you know exactly what you are eating day in and day out.
- Eat HEALTHY SNACKS – the best time for a snack is about 2-3 hours after a meal or 2-3 hours before a meal. Good low-perishable items to keep on hand include raw nuts or seeds, whole fruit, peanut butter, 100% whole grain crackers, vegetable juice, unsweetened applesauce, tuna pouches, and whole food bars like RXBARs.
- Drink MORE WATER – it is the best beverage out there so drink up! It helps keep you hydrated, regulates body temperature, boosts immune function, helps with digestion, prevents headaches, and helps with hunger and satiety cues. Don’t like plain water? Try adding homemade frozen fruit ice cubes to your water or infusing a pitcher of water with chopped cucumber, lemons, or oranges for a little added but natural kick!
- Practice SELF-COMPASSION– a recent STUDY found that self-compassion leads to better stress management. As we know chronic stress can directly harm our health through physical responses to stress… think increased heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc. as well as indirect responses to stress… think decreased exercise, increased “couching”, and increased alcohol and junk food consumption. Finding self-acceptance and self-love could be your main barrier to a stress-free lifestyle.
Nutrition can play a HUGE factor in stress management. By choosing healthy, nutrient-dense foods, the body is in its best state to combat stressors. Get your stress under control today by working with me! Email info@NicoleOlenRDN.com to get started!