by Veronica Verhoff
March is National Nutrition Month, and we want to help you get into the nutritional swing of things. But that’s easier said than done. We know what it’s like–stress in our daily lives can make even simple decisions (apple, not candy bar) even harder than they should be.
So while stress is something we all experience, it’s also something that profoundly affects our health (and our waistlines!). Chronic stress leads to cravings for junk food and problems with our digestion. During periods of high stress, fat burning slows down, and we start storing fat instead. This is when stubborn belly fat is formed.
Here are five simple steps you can take each day to reduce or eliminate those stress eating urges:
- Make sure you’re getting enough protein. Include high quality protein – like eggs, nuts and beans – into every meal and snack. Protein helps keep hunger and cravings at bay and helps keep your blood sugar balanced. Read more about the ‘pros’ of protein here.
- Don’t skimp on antioxidants. That means ramping up your fruit and veggie consumption.
- DO skimp on simple sugars (white bread, crackers, cookies, soda, and candy). Instead, opt for whole grains such as quinoa, oatmeal, and wild rice. Simple sugars only increase belly fat storage. Over time, you will crave these less. Check out these healthy quinoa recipes, and try one fore dinner tonight.
- Lay off caffeine! It’s easy to over-do it on caffeine when you’re stressed and exhausted, but think about it: caffeine stimulates the adrenal (stress) glands. When you’ve reached the point of adrenal exhaustion (after prolonged stress), consuming more caffeine is like beating a dead horse. It’s no longer helping you.
- Use healthy distractions. When you would normally polish off a bag of chips or M&Ms, have some hot tea; green tea is great for curbing your appetite. Step outside for fresh air or even get a few minutes of exercise – jumping jacks, a walk, some yoga moves or whatever you prefer.
Most importantly, maintaining a healthy diet is critical to help you manage stress, stay alert and keep the pounds off. Working with a trained nutritionist can also help you find the right mix of foods for you and help you stay on track to meet your health and wellness goals.
Veronica is our onsite nutritionist who helps people address many health concerns, such as allergies, high cholesterol, diabetes and weight management. Her passion for nutrition led her to teach biochemistry, or how food works in the body, at the graduate level. She takes time to explain how different foods play a role in your ability to lose weight and prevent disease. She has worked alongside many physicians and with people of all sizes and walks of life. She is committed to helping people achieve their goals.
MPH, RD, LDN – Registered Dietitian