Here’s more from our guest blogger, Paige E. Butkus, Nourished to the Core, LLC – Holistic Nutritionist & Yoga Teacher, on how to stay healthy when dealing with stress.
Work on keeping a healthy gut flora.
In order to combat stress we need all of our defenses strong including our gut bacteria. The microscopic bacteria that live inside of our digestional tract help us with more than you may know. Scientists have labeled the stomach our “second brain” for a reason. As much as our mind influences our body, our gut influence our mind. When our healthy bacteria are out of whack:
- Our immune system is compromised.
- Our digestion is weakened.
- Our mental state and mood is negatively affected.
- Our energy levels are reduced.
- Our oral health is affected
- Our craving for unhealthy food increases.
- Women’s vaginal health is affected.
Here are some of the ways that we can keep our good bacteria thriving:
- Take a daily probiotic with multiple strains. Take it on a empty stomach with a glass of water.
- Eat prebiotic foods or take them in a supplement form. These are the fibrous foods that feed the probiotic bacteria such as: raw chicory root, raw jicama, acacia gum, sprouted-grain bread, wheat germ, raw Jerusalem artichoke, raw dandelion greens, raw garlic, raw leeks, potato skins, cooked onions, raw asparagus, baked wheat flour, and raw banana.
- Eat fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kombucha.
- Stress less. Stress as well as other unhealthy lifestyle behaviors (smoking, drugs, drinking alcohol) can reduce the amount of “good guys” (probiotic bacteria) in your gut fighting for you.
- Drink less liquids with meals to allow the bacteria to grow instead diluting them.
Getting adequate sleep.
Getting enough sleep and having healthy sleep hygiene matters. When we are tired we are not capable of making the best choices for ourselves. The reason is because we lack the willpower and strength to care about eating well. We cannot be mindful when our bodies are not well rested. Aim for: at least 8 hours sleep, no lights on to help increase melatonin, no food two hours before bed, and sleeping in a cooler temperature room will help.
By the time that you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. Our bodies need more water than most of us are drinking. Water needs fluctuate each day depending on what you are doing. To figure out a minimum of water you should be consuming each day: Take your weight in pounds and divide it in half…that is the amount of water in ounces you should be drinking minimum each day. Often when we think that we are hungry, we are actually just thirsty. Reach for a full glass of water first before making the decision to eat. Being dehydrated is just another way that causes us to not be mindful as it causes a cloudy mind.
The best way to combat stressful eating habits is to be prepared! If you know that you won’t be able to eat for a while, bring nutritious snacks with you during a hard day at work. Shop smart. You know that if you buy those cupcakes in bulk, you are going to eat them. Portion control is too hard to do when you are stressed out, so don’t buy as many cupcakes or don’t buy them at all. Another tip is that if you eat off of smaller plates it will help you eat less. Lastly, keep your house clean and free of clutter. Having a messy kitchen will discourage you from being able to make a healthy decision about food when stressed out.
When all else fails please enjoy your life and eat and drink without regrets. Tomorrow is a new day. One bad meal will not ruin you. Sometimes what serves you is to eat that unhealthy meal. If it happens that you overindulge then do so with mindfulness, fully enjoy your meal. Holding onto negative feelings towards food or yourself will not serve you in the end. Mindful eating is a practice. Be patient with yourself as you make changes to improve your nutrition through awareness. To maintain a healthy way of life, it starts with self-love and acceptance.
~Paige E. Butkus, Nourished to the Core, LLC – Holistic Nutritionist & Yoga Teacher
Paige E. Butkus has been teaching yoga since 2007 in Denver, CO. She obtained her Bachelors Degree in Human Nutrition from Metropolitan State University of Denver May 2015. She currently is leading yoga classes at the River yoga studio and Club Form. She has a private nutrition counseling practice through Nourished to the Core, LLC. She can be reached through email at [email protected] or through her Facebook page www.facebook.com/nourish2core.
Disclaimer: Before making diet or lifestyle changes consult with your primary care physician, especially if you are prescribed any medications. These tips are meant to improve your eating habits and are in no way intended to substitute medical advice. Use your best judgement when making changes. Be your own health advocate.
Check out Part 1 for more tips on healthy eating during stressful times!