Using Food To Reduce Stress

Pursuing wellness has been the foundation to my every day for the past 9 years.

I follow a certain lifestyle to stay grounded and connected to my highest self, and to be able to handle what life throws at me anytime or day.

My morning routines are a must, or else I’m just not myself. Most days these include some Ayurvedic practices (oil pulling, neti-pot cleansing, dry brushing, and abyhanga) and meditation followed by daily activities like journaling, stretching, horse riding, and breaking a sweat if only for just 15 minutes.

It’s a personal pursuit based on bio-individuality that is anything but linear as a journey, were as a woman I’ve learned to honor and work with my hormones instead of against them. (I must write a piece on hormonal balance soon enough; achieving it is the answer to so many, if not all, the issues in a woman’s life!)

What I look like is also the least of my concern, I only care how I feel and perform. After all, what looks healthy and fit can be anything but that within.

What you’ll train and witness the most changes in meanwhile pursuing health and fitness is primarily your mind, and not your body.

The Biggest Killer: Stress

I think that the mind- the stress that initiates there in particular- can be the biggest cause of diseases. Certainly even if it’s genetic, your thoughts can heal or destroy you heightening or diminishing a condition.

The reality check: Life was created to be difficult. In many instances, it’s a constant of hell-ish tests.

You’re bound to feel stress from all aspects in life: your job, family, friends, the environment, etc. This is why taking care of yourself should be at the top of your list. You already have enough outside stressors, there is no need to add nutritional and physical stress on your body via bad food choices and bad eating habits.

I only mentioned food/eating first as the prime stressor because the digestive process is the most energy-consuming job for your body. Diet will always triumph exercise.

To me, food IS medicine. It is also fuel, recovery, and on occasions, a mindful pleasure.

Nourish, Don’t Stimulate Via A Healthy Balanced Diet

Instead of relying on stimulants such as coffee, start to seek energy through nourishment through adopting a healthy balanced diet. A diet that is primarily alkaline and anti-inflammatory.

What would it consist of? I’d put it simply as: eat real, fresh, and whole one-ingredient foods that spoil within 7-10 days’ maximum.

  • Eat a wide array of leafy greens, fresh herbs, seaweeds, colorful vegetables and some fruits.
  • Eat more plant-based proteins such as pseudo gluten-free grains (quinoa, amaranth, etc.) lentil, beans, nuts and seeds than animal proteins. (I personally eat a whole foods plant-based diet with little fish, shellfish, and eggs here and there, because I enjoy them. I shall be writing a post on the many protein myths soon).
  • Consume complex carbohydrates from gluten-free  grains such as brown/black rice, millet, buckwheat, etc. or even better, starches such as sweet potatoes, beets, yams, squashes, and parsnips for fuel. These are great earlier in your day or around your training hours depending on your body type, goals, and activity level.
  • Avoid common allergens and inflammatory and foods such sugar, dairy, gluten, soy, and corn.
  • Focus on crowding out the unhealthy food choices, with delicious healthy ones. Basically, find whole foods that work with your body and make you feel good and eat them! Mindfully and intuitively of course.

Start with 3 square meals spaced 3-5 hours apart and make sure your meals consist of a carbohydrate, protein, and fat source.

And don’t forget to treat yourself here and there. Not because you “earned” it, but simply because food is a blessing and pleasure that should be enjoyed, guilt-free!

Also, it is the thoughts you put into your foods that matter most. My greatest accomplishment was reaching peace with all foods and never having to categorize them as bad or good, forbidden or not. I eat the healthy 80-90% of the time, and the unhealthy 20-10% is because I want to joyfully. Even if it means I eat an entire pizza or tub of ice cream alone, I’m adult and I’m aware. I eat each bite and/or spoonful in gratitude and contentment.

More Stressors

Other stressors on your body can include: not enough movement,  unpersonalized training (as much as I love many aspects of Crossfit, it certainly is not for all women- at least not without wrecking their hormones), or overtraining, as well as, lack of hydration, recovery, and quality sleep.

The more stressful your job/family/environment is; the more effort you need to put in achieving health.

A body that is well-nourished (not overfed and undernourished like in most cases) and is in motion, will always crave being motion. Energy becomes constant.

Your diet and training should give you the energy to tackle life, and not wear you out.

And while it takes years to find that balance, it’s a journey worth pursuing because no feeling beats feeling good inside out, putting to use your utmost gift in life that is your body, and knowing it is capable of the unimaginable if only you nurture and honor it with a healthy vibrant diet, proper movement, and a proactive lifestyle.

Remember, to be able to handle the unhealthy, you first need to ensure you’re as healthy as possible.

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