What and how we eat has a huge impact on our health and well-being and can either increase or decrease our stress levels, both physically, emotionally and mentally. Stress on any level affects our hormonal balances and can lead to poor energy, poor sleep, weight gain (less frequently weight loss) and emotional lability. Life circumstances are often already stressful and difficult to cope with when our stress coping system is strained to the max. Our resilience to stress is lowered so we are more reactive, more tired and more likely to go for food choices that give us a “quick fix” in terms of energy: high carbohydrate, high sugar, high caffeine foods. These further deplete our physical reserves and wreak havoc with our blood sugars leading to further “carb craving”. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle of misery. But we can escape this cycle with a Diet to De-Stress your Body and Mind! Getting started – Gentle detox & de-stress guidelines It is not necessary to have an “all or nothing” approach as this often sets us up for failure. It is better to start making small changes, add in healthy choices and gradually replace unhealthy ones. Start with the following suggestions… Lemon and water first thing in the morning. Hot water with lemon boosts the digestive system, is a gentle liver detox and helps alkalinize the body. Try a fresh veggie juice before breakfast (this requires a juicer, but they are getting less and less expensive and are a good investment in your health). Try juicing: one carrot, one celery stick, one apple, one slice of ginger, ½ a small beetroot and perhaps some mint leaves or ½ a lemon. It tastes better than it sounds and continues the gentle detox plus gives you a boost in nutrients. Follow your juice with a good protein breakfast. This supports liver function, stabilizes your blood sugar and helps you avoid the cycle of sweet craving. Scrambled eggs with a slice of wholegrain toast is a good choice. If you are a vegetarian try quinoa or oats porridge with nuts and seeds for extra protein or a dab of plain natural yogurt. If you are very pressed for time a protein smoothie works well – blend natural yogurt, protein powder (whey, rice, pea proteins are best) & frozen or fresh berries (low GI/sugar) works well. Eat a small protein snack every two hours. This helps curb cravings, keeps your blood sugars stable and boosts your metabolism. Good choices are a ½ handful of nuts such as almonds, pepitas, pecans or walnuts or a small tin or tuna or perhaps a boiled egg. Avoid having fruit as a snack on its own as it can crash out your blood sugars. Keep fruit to 2 pieces a day max. Avoid high GI fruit: banana, melon, mango, etc. Better to have apples, pears or berries as they are lower GI. Fruit can be taken with nuts etc to help stabilize blood sugar or put into your morning smoothie as mentions. Eat a salad with protein source for lunch and avoid sandwiches, wraps and other high carb options. If weight loss is not a goal these are ok but make sure you have a protein source in your sandwich or wrap. Examples might be chicken breast, tinned tuna, boiled egg etc. Vegetarians protein sources might include tofu or tempeh, lentil burgers or falafel. Don’t forget your afternoon protein snack. Eat either a salad with protein for dinner or fresh steamed or stirfried veggies with protein instead. You can have a normal family meal but avoid the carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, pasta etc. particularly if you are wishing to shed kilos. You can have unlimited vegetables (excluding the potato). Try not to eat after dinner. If you must snack again go for a protein snack to stop the carb craving. Wean off coffee & alcohol. The caffeine and alcohol are not helpful for a stressed body and mind. Herbal teas can help calm the nervous system and help you through the weaning down period. Try Chamomile, Passion Flower or some of the “Stress” tea variations found on every supermarket shelf. Drink more water. Water is essential for body and mind functioning and many, many people are dehydrated. Try to consume your weight in water in mls every ½ and hour during the day. Eg if you weight 70 kilo try to drink about 140 ml an hour. Chose spring or filtered water, never tap. The countertop cistern filters are not expensive and work well. Get some exercise every day. Yes easier said than done in a busy life but this is essential. Even 20 minutes of brisk walking does wonders to lower stress, boost metabolism and weight loss and boost mood. Learn some meditation techniques. Even 10 minutes a day can change your life! Meditation has profound positive effects on body, mind and spirit. It elevates mood, diminishes stress responses and makes people happy! You do not have to have a “quiet mind” to practice meditation techniques. The techniques will quiet your mind over time all you have to do is practice regularly. Get started today with the Diet to De-Stress your Body and Mind!