Did you know that among all things, diet plays a significant role in stress management? If you are already stressed, just try this small experiment today. After your dinner, have an ice cream or some sweets and observe the quality of your sleep. I can guarantee that it’ll be of poor quality and you’ll not feel that refreshed in the morning as you normally would. If you already suffer from sleep problems, which majority of stressed people actually would, the effect will be more noticeable.
According to Ayurveda, the foods we consume play a vital role in how our mind and body functions. Certain foods, which we reach to at times of stress and think as stress relievers, actually cause more stress inside. Repeated consumption of such foods ultimately leads to fatigue and loss of energy in the long run and opens the door to hosts of illnesses. Here are some of them:
Foods to Avoid
Sugar – This is one of the biggest culprits in modern day’s diet. Sugar is nothing but calories. Sugar gives temporary energy boost by causing our adrenal glands to work harder. It is like whipping an already tired horse to run faster. As it has zero nutrients, it depletes body’s resources as the body has to use its reserve of vitamins and minerals and from other foods to process it.
Caffeine – Just like sugar, caffeine causes the adrenals to work harder, thereby causing more stress. Present in tea, coffee and colas, which is consumed in massive quantities by present generation, it causes the body to be in a state of continuous stress.
Refined Foods – Refined foods liked white flour and all processed foods are devoid of essential nutrients, fiber and they rob the body of its reserve of vitamins and minerals. Consumption of such foods makes the already stressed body work harder. And as they lack fiber, our body has to work doubly hard to eliminate them.
Foods are meant to be consumed in their natural, whole form. But to satisfy our taste buds and eyes, they are processed, stripped of vital nutrients, fiber and made beautiful and tasty. And then they are fortified. What the whole thing actually means is you remove all natural vitamins and minerals initially and then add synthetic vitamins and minerals, which are essentially chemicals. What an irony!
Foods to Eat
Fruits, Vegetables and Wholegrain Foods – Fruits, vegetables and wholegrain foods are full of vital nutrients that our body needs, especially at times of stress. Moreover, they are excellent sources of fiber, one of the key ingredients lacking in present day diet. Elimination is equally important as consumption. Just as you need to consume vital nutrients, you need to eliminate wastes and toxins from the body. Both go hand in hand.
Also, whole foods take longer time to digest and assimilate and as a result you don’t feel the hunger pangs and adrenal boost that you normally experience when you consume junk foods. The result is calm and relaxed mind and body.
One of the key indicators of a stressed body is the presence of large amount of toxins. Just replacing one of your regular meals (preferably dinner) by a meal comprising largely of vegetables and fruits can help the body to speedup elimination of toxins and feel better. A short, 2-3 day juice fast, under the guidance of an experienced practitioner, with due mental rest and relaxation, can work wonders in reducing stress.
Remember, fasting is not just depriving the body of food. It also means giving complete rest to both the body and the mind. Therefore, fasting done in a retreat, where you can keep your worries aside and be totally relaxed, can be doubly beneficial than fasting done in your regular lifestyle.
Next to breath, majority of the energy we receive is from foods. By consuming fresh, wholesome foods and giving sufficient rest to our body, we can go a long way in reducing stress and regaining our health and well-being.