“Stress eating” is something most of us are familiar with. Many of us go on a “stress eating” spree, when we are preparing for our upcoming thesis defense or deciding to make a very risky stock investment decision. And some of us are always under pressure, so stress eating happens sometimes when we are not even aware of it!
The problem is, the foods we take in the name of “stress eating” can often be harmful. And I am not only talking about the waistline, though that takes the first blow. But sometimes certain “stress relief foods” do the opposite of “stress relief”, they often contain cortisol, a steroid hormone that is responsible of stressing you more.
How about seeing our “favorite” stress foods in a new light?
Energy Drinks: “Pulling an all-nighter to finish a project with deadline due tomorrow? Sure you need the wings from a can (or multiple cans) of energy drinks, right?”
But the nutritionists would not be so sure about it. These energy drinks are high in caffeine and sugar. And as I have said, these foods add stress. The combination of jittering effects of caffeine and sugar crash can be rather taxing on your body. And also, it summons insomnia- a deity of stress.
Candy & Sweets: “No energy drinks? How about some sweet treats then?”
Well, the nutritionists would disagree this time too. Because sweet treats, high on sugar will increase the level of stress hormones. Because these sweet treats increase the level of cortisol- which increases stress. Also, high sugar levels in blood ignite insulin spikes. And all these can lead the way to irritability and increased food cravings.
Gums & Sugar-free Candies: “Fine! No energy drinks & Sugary treats! I’ll just chew on sugar free gums while I’m working on my assignment due in 26 hours.”
Well, the nutritionists are probably going to hide their face when they disagree because they already feel sad for doing that three times in a row. Because, these artificially sweetened candies/gums will cause bloating and that is uncomfortable. Which is enough to make you feel irritable. Not much of a stress relief jackpot.
Processed Foods: “Okay! Have your ways at it! I’m gonna munch on snacks because you nutritionists are already stressing me out with the “sciency facts” about our favorite stress relief foods”.
I’m sure the nutritionists will find some way to convey the message how harmful those processed foods (e.g.: chips and snacks) are. These snacks, high in sodium, fat and artificial flavor inducers contribute more to the stress. Yes, now brace yourself for the “sciency fact”, sugar and salt directly increase the level of cortisol. Which is known for increasing the level and amplifying the effect of stress.
Alcohol: “Fine! Just leave me be! I’ll drink my sorrow (or stress)”
Sorry to disappoint you (well, the nutritionists feel so sorry for that they “can’t even …”), but a glass of wine isn’t as “relaxing” as you might think it is when you are under stress. Because, alcohol stimulates the release of your nemesis, cortisol.
Alcohol and stress have positive correlation. They are like teammates. Feeding each other constantly. Something you don’t need (and probably don’t want either) when you are stressed already.
I think I will stop here. This blog is probably inducing more stress to those who are going through a stressful time and leaning on the “stress foods” mentioned here. But don’t worry, there are foods that do actually help you coping with stress. Like a handful of nuts, a bowl of mixed berries or avocados. You can drink a cup of chai tea to relax too (but don’t overdo it).
I think now you know what to avoid while you’re under pressure and need to eat something to cope with it. Let me know how this article helped you (or if helped at all).