Best Eating Habits to Shift Chronic Stress

lady eating a meal at a table - eating habits to shift ongoing stress

If there are problems with digestion, the food will not be digested and absorbed properly. (Image: Pablo Merchán Montes via Unsplash)  

Your eating habits have the power to shift some of your ongoing chronic stress and support not only your physical health, but also your mental health. Chronic stress is the number one reason people get sick.

While much of what happens to you is out of your control, how you react is something in your control. There are some tips I will share that can build you up to have more resilience so that you can function and respond in the best way possible.

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To better handle chronic stress, you first need to look at where it’s coming from

Your body can’t tell the difference between real or perceived threats — the nervous system’s hormonal response is the same. Now, there’s plenty of research on cortisol (the stress hormone) and how what may start as emotional stress can become a physical problem if left untreated. It’s usually an accumulation of several factors creating the perfect storm — your environment, genes, and biology together play a role.

Long-term chronic stress wreaks havoc on all your hormones and depletes you of essential minerals like iron, zinc, and magnesium. These are needed for hundreds of roles in your body.

Whatever the source of chronic stress, when you nourish your body’s cells with the right nutrients and remove obvious triggers, you have the best chance of functioning well.

When you get stressed, your body’s sympathetic nervous system, your “fight or flight” response, is activated. The other arm, called the parasympathetic nervous system, or “rest and digest,” is then shut down.

So you don’t absorb nutrients from your food properly or sleep well when you are stressed. You are hardwired this way.

Chronic stress wreaks havoc on all our hormones and depletes us of essential minerals.
Chronic stress wreaks havoc on all our hormones and depletes us of essential minerals. (Image: via Pixabay)

What can you do about it?

  • First, sit down and take some deep breaths before eating.
  • Focus on having adequate amounts of clean protein and plants (like green leafy veggies) at each meal — so lots of non-starchy vegetables.
  • Make sure to get enough anti-inflammatory fats (omega-3s) from wild-caught fish like salmon or take a purified omega-3 supplement for the anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • And ideally, limit caffeine, as more than one cup a day increases adrenaline. 
cooked salmon on a black plate on top of healthy greens
Wild-caught salmon and leafy greens support brain health. (Image: via Caroline Attwood via Unsplash)  

Essential amino acids and essential fats

Essential amino acids and essential fats are given the name “essential” because you need to obtain them from your diet. Your body can’t thrive without them, as it can’t produce the right brain chemicals without them! All your daily behaviors result from neurotransmitters in your brain. Keeping inflammation at bay is the role of omega-3s. 

These tips are foundational! 

Start with getting the basics right and I’ll expand on more in coming videos. Please consider sharing this with a friend if you’ve found it helpful.

Sheridan Genrich CGP is a naturopath and nutritionist who received her health science degree from Charles Sturt University, and also received the Dean’s Award for academic excellence. Sheridan mainly works with over-stretched professionals, entrepreneurs, and executives who struggle to be in their best health. Find her at Better Brain Health.

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