Foods That Cause Stress

Often in times of stress, we turn to food to for comfort. You had a long hard day at work so you pour a few glasses of wine when you get home. You had an argument with your significant other so you whip out a pint of ice cream. For the short-term, you do feel a little better and more relaxed. However, some of the foods and drinks we choose are counter intuitive and actually facilitate stress instead of negating it.

There is a definitive connection between the gut and the rest of your body, including the brain. When your gut receives food that aggravates its proper function the result is added stress to the rest of the body. In some cases, the aggravation is because of an amount of a certain food or drink, and in other cases, it’s because the food is altered or artificial.

If you want to help alleviate stress symptoms from your body you should avoid these

  • Simple Sugars/High Fructose Corn Syrup Consuming sugary foods causes blood sugar levels to spike which in turn releases cortisol. Cortisol is needed to regulate blood sugar balance, but it also increases stress levels. Eliminating excess amounts of sugar will save your body from the added stress caused by unnecessary high levels of cortisol.

    • Examples include cookies, cakes, ice cream, candy and soda.

  • Artificial Sugar Fake sugars, like aspartame, may cause side effects that lead to stress. Side effects such as, migraines, mood swings and trouble sleeping. And, while calorie-free, the body treats fake sugar as real sugar also causing spikes in blood sugar.

    • Examples include diet sodas and many treats labeled “low-calorie.”

  • Processed Foods Salt is one of the main ingredients in any food that is processed. When you consume too much sodium your body retains fluid which forces the heart to work harder to keep blood pumping. Stress on the heart means stress on the body.

    • Examples include frozen dinners, canned soups, ready to cook boxed meals and deli meats. Food ordered in restaurants also typically contain high amounts of sodium.

  • Alcohol Small amounts of alcohol consumed can be beneficial, but too much can cause a serious problem with stress. The immediate effects of alcohol may be relaxing, but once it wears off higher stress levels may ensue. Hangover symptoms such as headaches, upset stomach and restlessness all aggravate stress. Also, many alcoholic beverages are high in sugar leading to blood sugar related symptoms.

    • Examples include wine, beer and mixed drinks and cocktails.

  • Caffeine Like alcohol, a little bit of caffeine, such as what many get from a morning cup of coffee does have its added health benefits. However, too much and we run into trouble. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and too much stimulation creates a rise in blood pressure and heart rate. Physical symptoms like the jitters and restlessness prevent the ability to relax.

    • Examples of where you will find caffeine include coffee, sodas, energy drinks, pain relievers, and chocolate.

For many, stress is a challenge. Stress is often cyclical, meaning one thing leads to another which leads to another, and so on. External circumstances may not always be in your control, but how you choose to take care of your health is. Eliminating foods from your diet that cause stress and adding the foods that help alleviate stress may make a world of difference in your everyday life and overall lifestyle.