How many of you turn to comfort food to deal with stressful situations?  Once in awhile we have clients who have been flying through our weight loss program call or come in after a stressful week to report that they feel like they’ve failed.  While it was easy to go through the structured regimen required in Phase 1 of our program when life was in normal mode, once a high stress incident happened, they automatically turned to that food that gave them an immediate sense of satisfaction.

While it’s understandable that a chocolate bar or two will give you some endorphins that might make that tough situation feel better for a minute, it’s important in a healthy lifestyle to find other avenues of stress relief.  Behaviors that include indulging in unhealthy stress relief seem to give a minute of satisfaction in exchange for a much longer term of even higher stress.

It is important that you learn to deal with stressful situations in a healthy manner.  Finding alternatives to the chocolate bar can keep you on track with your weight loss, but in addition to that, they can keep your body in a better state of health so that you can handle any stress that may be thrown your way.  By making healthy living choices, you will be protected against the harmful effects of stress in your life.

Sugar and starch found in most “comfort foods” create spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.  When you combine these high levels with the higher cortisol produced from your stress, you tend to eat more.  That and the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes from the blood sugar spikes, makes that brownie that tasted so great, a lot less desirable.  Rather than turn to the bag of chips, find a healthy, crunchy vegetable substitute.

Rather than going for a soda, coffee or any caffeinated beverage, which not only increase levels of certain stress hormones, but also mimic their effects in the body (like an increased heart rate), find some stevia sweetened sparkling water, or better, a calming herbal tea.

Choose to eat nutrient rich foods!!!  The nutrition in vegetables and fruits will help keep you healthy.  You see, high stress situations zap your immune system.  Eating a diet full of nutrients will protect you against the viruses that always seem to make you sick after you’ve been highly stressed.

Exercise!  Rather than relying on chocolate for endorphins, take a walk.  Try some yoga, lift some weights, go for a walk or a run.  Studies suggest that making your body stronger, actually helps you respond to stressful situations better.  Regular exercise also helps flush out the byproducts of the body’s stress response – those hundreds of chemicals released in response to a stressful situation – enabling you to return to a normal state quicker.

The tricky part with exercise is that starting a new exercise regimen when you are in a stressful situation can actually create more stress. The key is to start and find something you really enjoy BEFORE you get into a sticky situation.  That way, you’ll know what makes you feel better.

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