In the US, April has been designated National Stress Awareness Month. Healthcare professionals and trained counselors will celebrate Stress Awareness Day on April 16th - the day after taxes are due (How appropriate!).
While the term stress generally has a negative connotation that need not be the case. Stress is a physiological and psychological response to demanding situations in our lives. These demands vary from person to person but can include things like job loss, death, injury, hectic schedules, job performance and so forth. When your mind perceives this so-called "demanding situation" it triggers the fight or flight mechanism. Once that threat or situation has been removed the body returns to normal. The problem with arises when the mind is constantly perceiving the stress triggers and keeping the body at high alert. Constant stress or chronic stress is related to a number of different ailments including hypertension, increased risk for stroke, increased risk for cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, sexual impotency and weight gain.
This last issue can create a nasty downward spiral. A stressed person secretes a hormone called cortisol. One of the negative side effects of cortisol is fat accumulation. A small amount of weight gain after a stressful period leads to further stress and depression and so on. So the question arises - what can I do to control my stress and in particular my eating habits when I am stressed?
There is one pretty simple rule - establish three regular meals a day, four hours apart and stick to it. In general, people eat more when they are stressed and they have irregular meal patterns. A recent study showed a strong correlation with irregular meal patterns and insulin resistance and increased risk of metabolic syndrome. Eating a different number of meals each day appears to not allow your body to establish proper hormonal signaling (e.g. insulin, ghrelin, and leptin). Your body doesn't know how to regulate itself if it doesn't know when the next meal is coming. Set the pattern of three meals every four hours and don't eat after dinner and stick to it.
We have a product that will help you establish this pattern, Bios Life Slim. Slim should be a daily part of your routine. Everyone needs more fiber in your diet. Nearly every registered dietician will recommend including fiber with your meals. Slim slows down the absorption of glucose in the gut, delays gastric empyting, reduced your insulin levels and improves your cholesterol. Slim is what will make the difference in staying true to three meals a day, four hours apart and not eating after dinner.
Now - it helps to recognize when you are stressed. Take this survey provided by the Mayo Clinic to assess your stress. Learn what sets off your stress triggers. Ask yourself if you are eating because you are hungry or because you are stressed. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep (more on this in tomorrow's post). Develop a strategy to deal with stress that should include relaxation techniques and exercise and don't forget Slim and three meals a day four hours apart and no eating after dinner!