Stress…The food and mood connection

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Good morning everyone!  Hope your day is off to a great start so far!  I loved reading all your comments yesterday regarding living in the present moment.  I also received a wonderful comment from my mom saying that “as each day goes by, I will be even better prepared for this special moment of us getting pregnant.”  Everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for us, so I’m just going to relax and go with the flow (ha, no pun intended ;)).

I started off my morning with a 6am spin class and then I rushed straight home to watch my recorded episode of The Bachelorette before work.  Ha, yes I know I’m crazy but I really wanted to see the finale because I knew I would somehow come across the results on the internet and I didn’t want any spoilers!  And I admit, I was definitely rooting for the guy that she chose…he is a cutie patootie and the way he looked at her just screamed love…and I don’t know what came over me but I even got a lil teary eyed at the end…they just looked so happy and in love and I’m a hopeless romantic so I truly hope they stay together 🙂

Anyway, enough with senseless reality television, I want to talk about stress and how food correlates to your mood.  I’ve been communicating with a lovely reader of mine and as I was talking with her about stress, it got me thinking about how I used to cope with stress in my past.  At the first notion of stress in my life, the first thing I needed to happen was get the control back and the voices in my head told me to restrict and overexercise.  My disordered eating would rear its ugly head when stress entered my life and when I didn’t want to face my emotions or what was bothering me at that time.  The only way I felt I could deal with these emotions, was by resorting to unhealthy habits and the cycle would just continue.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I started dealing with stress in a healthier manner, but I do remember it started once I began eating healthier, balanced meals.  The very thing (food) that frightened me and gave me so much anxiety, was actually making me feel better, less stressed, and more energized.  Which brings me to an article my mother recently gave me, “The Food and Mood Connection”.  It describes how our diets can be a part of the equation to reducing stress, and it explains how combining carbs (once a phobia of mine) and proteins enhances the availability of serotonin in your brain, which is said to have calming effects.  No wonder I was feeling better once I was allowing myself to eat these foods again!

It also says that simply knowing you are taking care of yourself can boost your mood.  And I definitely agree with that…this disorder goes far and beyond what I looked like because deep down I so badly wanted to gain to a healthy weight and look like my healthy self again.  The mind is a powerful thing, and it was the voices and anxiety that was harder than anything else to overcome.  Through the years, once I started eating normally again and exercised less, I inherently felt happier and good about myself.  My skin was more supple and brighter, my cheeks were fuller and not so drawn in, my hair was shinier and thicker, I could think more clearer, and I felt more alive on the inside.  I was not only seeing results on the outside, but was feeling a shift of my mind going to a healthier state.  Healing the mind to a healthier state, is solving the biggest piece of the puzzle…once you have that in control, you are fighting and winning that battle.

It’s interesting how once something I used as a way to control my life, was inherently making me feel more stressed and out of control.  So if you’re struggling, imagine that eating a balanced, nutritious diet is not about the calories or a fear of carbs making you gain weight…remind yourself instead that it’s a feeling it will give you on the inside and that you’re healing your body.  In the end, you will feel less stressed and even more in control of your life.  And the next time you do feel stressed, learn new ways to cope with it.  Now when I’m faced with stress, I turn to a favorite (positive) blog of mine and read about her day, or I read a girly book, take a yoga class (which I need to do more of!), or talk/email a friend or family member.  Learning new ways to cope with stress, will make you feel more calm and clear about life and will allow you to continue on this healthy journey.

On that note, let’s get to my eats for yesterday and this morning!  By the way, I hope my food isn’t getting too boring for you all!  You know I’m a Creature of Habit and tend to love eating the same things all the time…and we’re trying to stick to a strict grocery budget so that lends to not many innovative and creative dishes.  I just hope to show you all that healthy and nutritious food can be fun, yummy, and somewhat “indulgent” too! 🙂

Lunch: I was feeling another yogurt bowl and had to use the last of the strawberries since they were on their last leg…

1 cup Fage yogurt, strawberries, and Peanut Butter Puffins. Side of roasted red bell peppers and zucchini.

Speaking of Peanut Butter Puffins, I’ve had quite a few inquiries as to what these delicious puffins are so here they are…

Click on this link, Peanut Butter Puffins, to be directed to their site and find more flavors and products! Side note: On their site they have a Puffin Chocolate & Peanut Butter flavor…wowza, must try that stat!

At Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, you can find them in your regular cereal isle.  However at other grocery stores such as Safeway, they’re located in their organic health isle so it all depends on which grocery store you go to.  If you get ’em, please let me know how you like them…we could all start a Puffin Fan Club 😉

Dinner: Again, needed to use up avocado’s, produce, and turkey in our fridge so I went with a salad beast…

Breakfast: After spin class I was more than ready to eat, so I was very happy that I had prepped my overnight oats last night…breakfast was ready and waiting for me to eat up!

I promise the goods are under there…

Peek-a-boo! There they are 🙂 Side note: Need a manicure fill, stat!

I hope you’re all having a great day so far and I’ll see you all tomorrow 🙂

Questions: Do you resort to unhealthy habits when you’re stressed (i.e. alcohol, less sleep, restrict calories, overexercise, etc.)?  What are your methods for combating stress?  What are your thoughts and observations on food and mood?

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15 thoughts on “Stress…The food and mood connection

    Ann Marie said:
    August 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I bought the puffins after seeing them in so many of your posts. DELICIOUS!!! I now add them to my afternoon yogurt/fruit. (And find myself reaching in the box for a single taste here and there)!!

      Shayla @ The Good Life responded:
      August 2, 2011 at 2:27 pm

      Yay so happy you got on the puffin bandwagon with me! And so happy to hear you think they’re just as delicious as I do 🙂 Aren’t they great in yogurt?! That’s my fav way (obviously!) to eat them….and I agree, they’re just as spectacular on their own too for lil nibbles here and there 😉

    Kristin @ STUFT Mama said:
    August 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Oh my goodness- yes! I can totally tell when I’m stressed and sleep deprived. I always feel the temptation to overload carbs and sweets to avoid focusing on what I should be doing (like right now). 🙂 Ugh. Now I want those puffins! ha!

      Shayla @ The Good Life responded:
      August 2, 2011 at 2:25 pm

      Hi Kristin! So glad you stopped by! I loved your guest post on Tina’s blog…your story is so inspiring and I totally relate to it…thank you for sharing it and I look forward to reading more on your blog! 🙂

      The puffins are highly addictive!! 😉

    Sherri said:
    August 2, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Unfortunately, I can’t go to sleep when I’m stressed or I wakeup in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. I do sleep best if I’ve exercised but if too stressed that doesn’t even help. Any ideas?

      Shayla @ The Good Life responded:
      August 3, 2011 at 9:40 am

      Great question! Whenever I can’t fall asleep because of stress, a good trick to try is having a pen and pad on your night stand and jot down a list of everything that’s on your mind. That way you can unload it all in writing and feel relieved and less stressed that it’s out of your mind…then refer to your list the next day once you’re refreshed and rested! 🙂

    Lauren said:
    August 3, 2011 at 6:10 am

    When I’m stressed, I tend to reach for unhealthy foods rather than healthy. I’m really trying to make a change to that and maybe pick up a book. I used to be really big on impulse buying when I was stressed but I quickly got that under control.

      Shayla @ The Good Life responded:
      August 3, 2011 at 9:56 am

      Good for you for getting impulse buying under control…I know that can be hard since we want instant gratification. In fact I dealt with that and got myself in major credit card debt…I find what helped me at the time was to not even set foot in a shopping mall and would instead busy myself with a good movie or magazine 🙂

      And good for you in picking up a book instead of stress eating…I know that can be hard too as I used to deal with stress by having a glass of wine. I’ve since stopped that especially since we’re trying to conceive, so what helped me is either blog reading or if I was truly hungry, crunching on some carrot sticks with hummus…for some reason having something “crunchy” to snack on relieved that stress for me 🙂

    Amy said:
    August 3, 2011 at 6:22 am

    I’m terrrible when stress enters my life which seems like alot lately I tend to overexercise and restrict food. very bad a double whammy. I like your philosophy on healing the body and looking at it that way. God, would I love for my hair to be healthy and shiny again and quit falling out and to be happy on the inside and not so obsessive about everything I eat. I’m so glad i found your blog Shayla. you said the right thing at the right time this was amazing. you’ve really touched my heart. I’ve been praying for a positive role model or something to give me hope. I think i may have just found it.

      Shayla @ The Good Life responded:
      August 3, 2011 at 10:03 am

      I’m here for you Amy and you have my support…I’m happy and so proud of you for expressing these feelings because that’s the first step towards recovering. I know those obsessive feelings and voices…it feels like the devil…just know that you are stronger than those voices and nothing can stop you from living your life the best and healthiest you can. You are strong and have faith in yourself…I have it for you and my thoughts and prayers are always with you 🙂 xoxo

    sarahsmodernbites said:
    August 3, 2011 at 7:03 am

    Yesterday I left this long response to this post and then it just disappeared! haha I was so busy at work couldn’t devote any mental energy to re-writing it especially amidst my frustration from having it randomally vanish.

    In any case… the short of it was that I struggled for many years with disordered eating that was 100% a control thing. It was what I disappeared into so that I didn’t have to feel or deal with any stress in my life. Exercise and food were in my control and really consumed me. It became a very very difficult and dangerous circle to break out of and I really alienated myself from friends and family. They saw me struggle but I wouldn’t let anyone in because I thought I could do it on my own. Though I eventually beat it myself, which was a miracle, I realized that if I had let my family and friends help me, I would have been in a much better place earlier on. Allowing myself to be loved and to care for others really helped me. Once I started to really treat my body right and truly love myself it all fell into place. It was a battle with myself.

    Now, to deal with stress I acknowledge it and reflect back to earlier days and how I NEVER want to feel that way or treat my body that way again. So, I acknowledge the stress because it’s not going anywhere until I get to the root of it, I find ways to solve the issue to get it off my mind. Yoga helps, a good run ALWAYS helps, and I always call my Sister who is my best friend. retail therapy helps too. A LOT haha 🙂

      Shayla @ The Good Life responded:
      August 3, 2011 at 9:50 am

      Oh no I’m so sorry it vanished on you! I hate it when the happens…darn technology sometimes!

      We have a lot in common Sarah. I totally identify to your story…in fact you said it better than I did! I went through the same things you described and I love what you said at the end…”once I started to really treast my body right and truly love myself it all feel into place. It was a battle with myself.” So true. Once I accepted and loved myself for who I was on the inside and outside, personality and body wise, I focused solely on health (not skinniness/perfection) in treating my body right and with respect.

      Yes, I agree in that acknowledging stress is the first step and the best thing to do, get to the root of it, then solve it….love how you go about it. I too confide in my sister and mom who are my best friends, family is the best 🙂 And oh yes, I 110% agree that retail therapy helps 😉

    […] The Good Life …..Sharing Our Lives One Good Moment at a Time Skip to content HomeAboutBlogrollFamilyFashionJune 24 – July 3July 6 – 10July 11 – 17July 19 – 24July 25 – 31FitnessGetting ready…Wedding ← Stress…The food and mood connection […]

    fillmybellyuk said:
    August 4, 2011 at 6:24 am

    Nice Post ! Good Recipes. Its absolutely true that mood has a very strong impact on foods we eat. We actually tend to eat a lot of unhealthy food in lots when we are in stress or in a bad mood. Rather, we should adopt & stick to healthy foods. Thanks for the share !

    Amy said:
    August 5, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I so need to get this book!!!

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