Autumn stress and six rules of mindful snacking
There is a strong relationship between diet and stress. It works both ways: poor nutrition can make you more susceptible to stress, and stress affects your ability to choose healthy foods, digest them, and absorb nutrients. The lack of time associated with work, housework, childcare, and the rest of everyday life makes it very appealing to just take a box out of the freezer.
In the short term, this seems like a good way to save time and reduce stress. However, by sacrificing the daily rituals of shopping, cooking, and eating slowly and mindfully, you are missing out on potential social, emotional, and physical benefits and an opportunity to relax. Details are in this material prepared according to the book “Stress”.
Food and stress
Portion sizes in fast food restaurants are now two to five times larger than they were thirty years ago. The average portion size of homemade meals has also increased dramatically over the past decade. This has led to a dramatic jump in average daily calorie intake and is undoubtedly one of the main drivers of the obesity epidemic.
Stress has a powerful effect on appetite. When you are under stress, your nutritional needs change. It is at this point that most people go into emergency eating mode. Rushing, fast food, eating processed foods, eating standing up or in front of the TV – all these habits only exacerbate stress.
In fact, stress-related overeating is a comfortable habit. Think about the psychological and emotional reasons why you binge on food when you feel low. In our society, food is readily available, delicious, and inexpensive. This creates a feeling of immediate satisfaction. Food is a social phenomenon, a pleasure that we share with family, friends, and colleagues. Eating food and high-calorie drinks like beer together is an enjoyable activity that takes you out of your daily routine.
But consider the following
Stress makes you eat more. In the recovery phase of chronic stress, cortisol protects the body during prolonged stress by increasing fat storage. This is achieved by stimulating the desire to do something pleasant, including eating food. Thus, one of the main factors in the growth of overweight and obesity was formed.
Stress makes you crave more sugar and fat. Chronic stress affects not only how much you eat, but also what you eat. Cortisol and the emotional effects of stress increase cravings for fatty and sugary foods. This stimulates the release of the brain’s natural opiates, molecules that reduce pain and induce euphoria. Short-term spikes in opiate levels in the brain are actually addictive, and when the sugar supply stops in excess, the withdrawal will take its toll.
Stress provokes the accumulation of fat in the abdominal cavity. High levels of cortisol lead to the accumulation of fat in the abdominal region. The so-called visceral fat is a real danger to the cardiovascular system due to its impact on blood sugar and cholesterol levels. People with more visceral fat are at higher risk for heart disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and premature death.
Abdominal fat comes from foods high in carbohydrates and fats (such as pastries and ice cream), which are often used as so-called comfort foods. Eating a lot of carbs and fatty foods makes it more likely that your stomach will only work to calm your exhausted brain.
And by doing so, you are biochemically rewarding yourself for eating junk food and retaining visceral fat. Indeed, for some people, overeating is unconscious but real attempt to increase abdominal fat stores, because these cells interact with the brain, suppressing stress responses and improving mood. But the price is too high; There are other ways to achieve a similar effect, including a 30-minute walk.
Conscious eating is distinguished by slowness and concentration of attention while eating. This is a great practice for breaking the ties between food and stress. Many problems with overeating arise from the rush to get on with other things. It’s helpful to make at least one meal a day an opportunity to slow down and take care of yourself.
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Start by visiting your local grocery store and pick one or two vegetables you’d like to take home, cook, and eat. Be picky: choose only what looks fresh, smells good, and has good color and texture.
At home, tune in to what you will appreciate and use the selected products. Start by washing and removing leaves, stems, or other unwanted parts. Pay attention to color, texture and smell. Imagine the seeds planted, the soil in which the plant grew, and the sunshine and rain that nourished it. Imagine all the people involved in growing and harvesting the food you now have in your kitchen. Mentally thank nature for a wonderful series of events that leads to the fact that you enjoy eating delicious and healthy food every day.
Cook vegetables carefully, trying not to overcook. It will be best if the color reaches its peak intensity and the vegetables are soft enough to be chewed, but they do not turn into mush. Choose a beautiful plate and be careful when serving. Are you going to pour oil on the dish? Salt? Might be worth a try before adding anything.
Now sit down at your desk and don’t get distracted – no screens. Before you bite the first bite, pay attention again to the density, color, and smell of the vegetable, and how all of this has changed during the cooking process. Realize that you are about to take a dose of the best medicine on earth and your body will only benefit from it.
After taking your first bite, put down your fork and give yourself a chance to taste the food. Chew thoroughly, at least thirty times. After swallowing, pay attention to how you feel when the food enters your stomach.
Continue to eat each bite as consciously as possible as the first. This process may take some practice and patience, but it’s worth it. After you’re done, take a moment to think about how your body feels.