When we become overawed with stress, a common reaction is a sudden urge to eat food. The majority of the time, foods we consume in this situation will be the ‘convenience foods’ that are considered a quick fix to nullify stress. The theory of a quick fix is entirely false however, as these foods/drinks only make the problem worse. Consuming foods that are of a ‘junk’ nature actually increase the volume of stress on your body. This is because junk foods such as refined carbs causes a significant rush in your insulin levels which although will provide a short term rush, ultimately it will leaves you feeling worse off.
With this in mind, we’ve put together some top nutritional tips to give you the best chance of leaving those fatty/sugar loaded foods alone and help you to stay as stress free as possible!
Omega-3 Rich foods
These healthy essential acids are known to reduce stress and anxiety, boost concentration, and improve mood. You can also get them naturally in fish, including wild salmon and tuna. Try adding avocados to your diet, not only are they delicious — they’re also packed with omega-3 fatty acids.
Go Easy on the Caffeine for a Good Nights Sleep
We know from previous posts that sleep and HRV are intrinsically linked; good sleep promotes good heart rate variability (HRV). But what about the affect caffeine has on your stress levels?
Too much caffeine can have a massive negative impact on your body when under stress. Although it can give you a quick boost when required, the fatigue will catch up once the caffeine has worn off. It’s among the most common sleep tips and one we have covered here at ithlete. Caffeine with its well-documented stimulant effects is disruptive to good sleep. And with the emerging popularity of energy drinks and other caffeine heavy beverages and snacks, it’s not difficult to wind up consuming caffeine throughout the day, even if you don’t reach for that cup of coffee. Try drinking caffeine no later than 3pm, this will help your body get rid of the caffeine before bedtime.
It’s a centuries-old home remedy for getting a better night’s sleep yet warm milk helps because it has a relaxing effect on the body. Not only are calcium-rich foods an important part of a healthy diet for bone health, but they also help with stress reduction. Milk and other dairy foods with calcium and added vitamin D can help muscles relax and stabilise mood. So it may be a remedy of yesteryear but there is definitely an element of truth in it as milk is the protein that helps you relax and prepares you for sleep!
Up Your Vitamin C Intake
The problem people have when under stress is that they crave foods that are high in the nutrients that should be limited or avoided altogether. This is down to the stress-related hormone called cortisol that is produced when under stress. Some studies have found that high levels of vitamin C help ease stress levels. A recent study reported on the value of taking 3,000 milligrams of vitamin C in a slow-release formula to reduce stress and levels of the cortisol.
Drink Cold Water to Avoid those Snack Cravings
Water is a great way to trick your brain into thinking you have eaten. When a food craving begins reach for an ice-cold glass of water. The cold will help stimulate your metabolism to warm the water to body temperature and in turn help burn calories as well as give you a nice energy boost. The added benefit of this is that cold water actually boosts your HRV helping you combat stress in the process!
Monitor your Stress With ithlete
Monitoring your stress through HRV gives you valuable insight into just how stressed you are as well as when you experience the most stress, and what your triggers are. This knowledge provides an excellent starting point for the management of your stress levels.
Make sure you monitor your stress whether through training or work with ithlete. A feature of ithlete Pro is the the fully configurable timeline chart for HRV, resting heart rate, training load and subjective data enabling better insight into which lifestyle factors impact performance and recovery most. Additionally, ithlete is the only app that enables you to record subjective feelings of stress, fatigue, mood and your diet and sleep quality which allows you to discover which factors affect not only your training recovery, but also your overall health!