This information also comes from the PTSD group.
Lifestyle changes are the number one way we can start to de-stress our lives. "A healthy lifestyle is an essential companion to any stress management program and is extrenely important for many reasons. Lifestyle changes can have a dramatic impact on daily stressors while the other strategies are more personalized for individual needs."
Nutrition: Many people develop cravings for salt, fat and sugar to counteract tension and stress. As a result, they gain weight. The release of cortisol, a major stress hormone, appears to encourage abdominal fat and may be the primary connection between stress and weight gain. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid. These hormones, along with insulin, appear responsible for stress related food cravings.
Also, there may be a "reward-based stress eating" model. In this theory, stress and tasty, high calorie foods cause the brain to make chemicals called endogenous opoids. These neurotransmitters help protect against the harmful effects of stress by slowing activity of the brain process called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, thus weakening the stress response. Repeated stimulation of the reward pathways through stress induced HPA stimulation, eating tasty food or both, may lead to changes in the brain that cause compulsive overeating.
Dangerously, stress can exacerbate existing diabetes by impairing the patient's ability to manage the disease effectively. Therefore a healthy nutritional plan becomes increasingly important when developing a stress management program for the following reasons:
- a healthy nutritional plan also blunts the harmful effects of stress directly within the body
- a healthy nutritional plan proactively deals with potential weight gain
Usually, a varied meal plan is more interesting and thus easier to stick to. Like exercise, start slowly introducing healthier food choices into your daily eating habits. A severe or sudden change in your eating habits can undermine your success. The following are some suggestions:
- cut back on sweets, fat and salt intake
- make healthier choices when eating out
- eat more vegetables
- join weight watchers or a similar program
- seek out on-line programs
- seek the help of a nutritional specialist in order to meet your individual needs.