Your stress, your body, and your plate

Stress, good and bad, impacts your body’s health and your food choices.

We all get stressed. Stress is a normal emotional response to the demands of life. We all experience stress. Stress can be good or bad. Stress can be planning a wedding, preparing for a baby, a promotion at work, or a graduation. Bad stress can be caused by losing a loved one, economic hardships, or having too many things to do. The source of the stress does not change the impacts on your body and the food you may put on your plate.Your stress, your body, and your plate

Stress may affect your body by causing muscle tension, fatigue or an upset stomach. The reason stress has a huge impact on your body is due to the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands. This hormone is released when you are stressed. As stress decreases, cortisol levels go down. However, if you suffer from chronic stress you are at a higher risk to have digestive problems, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

To lessen the impact stress has on your body, relax your mind and become physically active. Relaxing your mind through meditation, reading, or listening to music can also help reduce the impacts of stress on your body. A quick 10 to 15 minute walk will reduce cortisol levels. Regular physical activity is important too. Your body relaxes after physical activity due to elevated endorphin levels and lowered cortisol levels.

Cortisol released into your body consistently may increase abdominal fat. When cortisol is clouding up your brain, your body craves foods that will change your brain’s chemistry. The foods you crave tend to be high in carbohydrates, fat and sugar. Comfort food does not have to be unhealthy. Fruits and vegetables are important during stressful times because they provide your body with necessary vitamins and minerals. Finding comfort in foods that are high in fat and sugar will not bring lasting comfort. Fight stress will nutrient dense foods that are high in vitamins and minerals to keep your body healthy.

Stress, good and bad, impacts the choices you make for your body and your plate. Being prepared with ways to fight stress is important for your body now, and in the future.

For more information from Michigan State University Extension on stress, your body, and your food choices please visit the following links.

Cortisol: The stress hormone

Stress is a part of life that can be managed

There is more to weight management than caloric balance

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