Every woman plays an important role in daily household activities, cooking for all family members, building her own career, taking care of children and their routine. It creates a lot of mental stress. Some women can easily take away from this but some cannot. To reduce mental stress, many women start eating junk or sweet foods. On the other hand some women skip their meals when in stress.

Behavior with eating disorder

A person with anorexia will show an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. While binge eating includes eating enormous amount of food at a time; much larger portions than most people would eat, with a sense of lack of control on eating during the episode (a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating). 

What is the relation of food and mental stress?

Emotional eating is using food to make yourself feel better—to fulfill emotional needs, rather than your stomach!

When you are stressed/ guilty 🡪 something happens that upsets you 🡪 you feel an overwhelming urge to eat food 🡪 you eat more to reduce your emotional stress

Our brains send signal to body when you are stressed in the form of hormone (cortisol). That cortisol can make you crave for sugary, salty and fatty foods.

How to identify emotional hunger?

It comes suddenly. This starts craving for specific foods like chocolates, sweets, pastries, oily foods like chips and wafers. Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied with a full stomach. 

Effect of wrong selection of food

  1. Sugar- when you eat sugary foods, your blood sugar levels spike, and the body must release more cortisol to balance blood sugar. The problem is that increased cortisol can also cause sleep issues, decreased immune response, increase headaches, and unhealthy food cravings. Additionally, rapidly fluctuating blood sugar levels cause feelings that are similar to stress, including anxiousness and fear.
  2. Artificial sweeteners- Artificial sweeteners can lead to health problems like headaches, metabolic disease, and cardiovascular disease.
  3. Processed carbohydrates- Many processed carbs, particularly standard packaged foods, are high in sodium which makes you extra thirsty. The extra sodium causes your body to retain more fluid, which then forces your heart to work harder to keep the blood pumping. It can also increase blood pressure.
  4. Alcohol- excess alcohol adding more stress to your life. That’s because drinking alcohol can increase the production of hormones that will leave you feeling anxious and more stressed. It can also increase blood pressure and heart rate and trigger those same stress-like symptoms within the body.  Alcohol disrupts your sleep patterns.
  5. Excess caffeine- Too much caffeine can spell trouble for your adrenal glands by over stimulating the body. Caffeine can cause a rise in blood pressure and heart rate that will ultimately increase feelings of anxiety.

Important Nutrients and Foods for Stress-Reduction

  • Vitamin C: Consuming foods high in vitamin C, such as oranges and other citrus fruits, can reduce stress and boost the immune system. Intake of this vitamin can help lower the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and blood pressure during high-anxiety situations.
  • Magnesium: Obtaining an adequate amount of magnesium is essential for avoiding headaches and fatigue, helps to improve sleep quality. Healthy sources of magnesium include spinach or other leafy greens, salmon, and soybeans.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Including flaxseeds, pistachios, walnuts, and almonds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce surges of stress hormones and also helps protection against heart disease, depression, and premenstrual syndrome.
  • Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate can not only satisfy your taste buds, but it can also help relieve stress at the molecular level. Researchers also found that daily dark chocolate consumption can be beneficial for individuals suffering from high levels of anxiety.
  • Oatmeal: Certain comfort foods, such as oatmeal, can reduce levels of stress hormones and also result in a boost in serotonin, which stimulates a feeling of calmness.