When we become abstinent from our drug or behavior of choice, a world of opportunity for healing the mind body and spirit opens up to us. Many of us find that the reality of our lives without our addiction to lean on is highly stressful. The nutritional needs are higher than average when we are dealing with managing stress, therefore our diet should be a priority and at the top of our self-care list.
In managing our stress levels we eventually find what works for us as individuals. For me, finding a spiritual path had to come first in order to be open to physical awareness and becoming mindful of changes I needed to make. Self-awareness regarding all aspects of my life is at the forefront of my own recovery.
Our physical condition deserves as much attention as our spiritual quests, if we want complete wellness. The quality of our experience in life is up to us. Whether it is short term or long term stress we need to be aware of what our body requires to cope. Taking responsibility for our health and our relationship to food is a necessary step to remain in good health and feel great.
If we notice we are looking worn out externally then we can be sure we are wearing thin internally also. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see the glowing skin, bright eyes and glossy hair of my clients after they have followed a new eating plan for a period of time. We need to reeducate ourselves about how we feed our body. If we don’t, eventually we will be in the care of medical professionals, looking for solutions to problems that may be fatal.
The first step is to be able to identify symptoms of stress that are regularly affecting our body. Muscle tension, headaches, increased heart rate, short temper, short term memory loss, skin conditions, loss or increased appetite are all first stage signs of stress affecting the body. It’s common to just live with these symptoms and become accustomed to them, eventually not noticing them at all. If we don’t address these symptoms we can begin to experience extreme insomnia, panic attacks, digestive disorders, and slowly become undernourished which leads to serious ill health. We may be taking medications to manage stress, but it often doesn’t need to get to that point if we have supportive nutritional practices. We need to heed phrases like,”we are what we eat”, and “food matters”.
So what are the things we need to add or take out of our diet to help manage stress.
Firstly the things to avoid. If we are already highly agitated and running on adrenaline, the last thing we need is more stimulation. The most obvious things to avoid would be caffeinated coffee, tea and definitely energy drinks. Try swapping your usual brands for decaffeinated options or herbal teas (camomile is excellent), and natural fruit juices. High sugar foods are empty calories and become toxic to the body, causing further cellular breakdown particularly when it’s already under stress. Of course if you’re in recovery you’re already avoiding alcohol – but it’s worth mentioning anyway.
You may find that during times of high stress your digestive system may not be working at its optimum level so its helps to follow a diet of easily digested foods. Highly processed foods and can be hard for the body to digest, especially fast food, high in trans fat – and should be avoided. It’s best to opt for low-fat dairy also. It may seem obvious that a diet rich in fresh, organic foods is best for us, but I cannot highlight the point enough.
Try this Stress Relief Smoothie: Jammed packed with antioxidants immune support, urinary tract comfort, anti-microbials, anti-inflammatory, omega 3 rich and has a natural tranquil effect.
2 decaffeinated white or green tea bags
4 cups of purified water
2 large limes peeled and quartered
1 large lemon
1 cup of unsweetened cranberry juice
2 cups of blueberries ¼ cup of raw honey( if available local is best)
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Teaspoon of milled chia or flax seeds
Magnesium supplement (dose on label per serving) Whole Food supplement option
Blend and enjoy!
I have spoken about foods to help combat the negative effects of stress in a previous article about brain health, but here’s a reminder of what they are.
Taking in B vitamin complex through foods and supplements are supportive in protection against the negative effects of stress and increase energy naturally. A perfect balance of folates, folic acid and the other B’s needed can be taken as a supplement. Legumes and leafy greens, broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, almonds and beets are great options to get your required intake naturally. When starting out using legumes start with only ¼ cup at first and introduce slowly. Many foods contain the stress reducing Vitamin B so there are lots to choose from.
The ever important Omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to helping with neurological disorders such as anxiety. I always recommend this as a staple for general good health. Calcium and magnesium are also excellent for calming and relaxing. Again a supplement can be added to the diet, but low fat dairy is a good calcium option also. Reading labels is a great way to learn the levels of vitamins and minerals in foods.
If making changes in your diet is difficult, I recommend a support system to learn and stay on the right track until the new ideas become more natural. It takes time, one meal at a time, with planning and support to sustain these changes. Take advantage of the free consultation at my website.
Here’s to your health!
Disclaimer: The information above is meant to be suggestive only. It is suggested to speak with your doctor before making any changes to your diet.