Stress eating. We’ve all been there. You’re on the phone with your best friend, talking about what your boss did today, and you realize that you have just eaten half a bag of M & M’s and you aren’t really sure where the bag even came from.
It’s okay. We all do it at some point. There comes a time when you’ve just got to let the guilt float on by.
But next time you decide to reach for a beverage or a snack, consider this. Your eating habits could actually be contributing to your stress levels. So before you make that trip to the vending machine or to the bar after work, keep this in mind.
While there is nothing in the world that you would rather do than guzzle down a cup of coffee when you have a long day ahead of you, it is actually best to keep the caffeine to a minimum. Yes, this includes energy drinks and other highly caffeinated beverages. It’s a pretty obvious correlation. Instead of giving you that boost of energy you are looking for, too much caffeine can make you agitated and irritable. Essentially, even more stressed out.
After a long day at work, the first thing that probably crosses your mind is a nice, relaxing glass of wine. But while a bit of alcohol in moderation won’t do too much damage, drinking too much can actually have the opposite effect. Alcohol actually increases levels of cortisol, which is the stress hormone that gets you going in the first place. And here’s an even weirder fact: stress apparently reduces the intoxicating effects of alcohol and so you drink more and get even MORE stress. The cycle feeds into itself.
3. Spicy Food
Stress actually slows down your metabolism and makes it much more difficult to digest food. This means that your food will sit in your stomach for longer and you could get all sorts of stress-related digestive problems. That’s why it’s probably a good idea to avoid foods that might aggravate your stomach – spicy food, especially.
Yes, unfortunately, sweets also have a way of increasing stress hormones in the body. The blood sugar and insulin spikes don’t help either. Eating too much refined sugar leads to energy crashes, increased irritability and food cravings. Your weekly trip to the vending machine at work? It’s stressing you out.
5. French Fries
French fries are considered a typical snacking food. Something high in sodium that you could just mindlessly eat for days. This is a pretty bad thing. Anything that is high in sodium makes your body retain more fluid. It makes your heart work over time, ups your blood pressure and leads to bloating and water retention. When this happens, your energy levels go down and your stress goes up.
So there it is. All of the foods we love to eat when we are stressed out? They are stressing us out. What a bummer. At least now you know which things NOT to snack on when you are having a particularly stressful week. Stick to the veggies. You can’t go wrong there.
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