Healthy Eating to Decrease Stress

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Healthy Eating to Decrease Stress

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You can handle stress better when you are as healthy as possible, so eating nutritiously is a good defence against stress. The tips below focus on using nutrition to reduce the symptoms of stress. For more information about eating right, see the topic Healthy Eating.

  • Avoid or limit caffeine. Coffee, tea, some soda pop, and chocolate contain caffeine. Caffeine causes you to feel "wound up," which can make stressful situations seem more intense. If you drink a lot of caffeine, reduce the amount gradually. Stopping use of caffeine suddenly can cause headaches and make it hard to concentrate.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. If you are feeling very stressed, you might be turning to alcohol for relief more often than you realize. Limit how much alcohol you drink.
  • Make mealtimes calm and relaxed. Try not to skip meals or eat on the run. Skipping meals can make stress-related symptoms worse. You may get a headache or a tight, tense feeling in your stomach. Eating on the run can cause indigestion. Use mealtime to relax, enjoy the flavour of your meal, and reflect on your day.
  • Avoid eating to relieve stress. Some people turn to food to comfort themselves when they are under stress. This can lead to overeating and guilt. If this is a problem for you, try to replace eating with other actions that relieve stress, such as taking a walk, playing with a pet, or taking a bath.

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Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised June 14, 2011

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