Stress Reducers: Yoga and a Balanced Diet

8:03 am Eat Healthy, Science of Yoga

I believe stress reducers are key to sanity in this day and age.

I recently wrote about Kundalini Yoga as a stress reducer. I can honestly say that without my regular practice I would be completely stressed out.

A few ways yoga reduces stress:

  1. Exercise, a physical workout is good for your body
  2. Breath control (pranayama) managing ones breath helps to control the flight or fight response mechanism, which has been necessary for a time for survival, but is a stress mechanism
  3. Stretching one of the best self massages available to us
  4. Meditation, the benefits of meditation are vast, to come under greater control over the thought forms within ones mind allows control over stress creators

It has become clear to me that people need more stress reducers in their lives, because it seems as though all throughout ones day things are adding to the stress levels. I decided to ask my friend Suzanne Monroe, who authors Online Nutrition Counseling about stress and eating.  I got back a great response packed with great info on how we can reduce stress through diet.

————————————————————————–

Stress in the body comes from emotional stress or physical stress that we put on the body through our activity, our environment (toxins) or the food we eat.
With the food we are eating, if it is highly processed, full of sugar and artificial ingredients, etc. our body has to do a lot of work to process it.  Take sugar for example, our body has to pull on our own reserves to process it because it has been stripped of all of its fiber, minerals and nutrients.  So we pull from our own mineral reserves and this is taxing. Especially day after day when this is the bulk of what we eat.  By cutting out the sugar, including processed, refined grains (white pastas, baked goods, crackers etc.), you will experience an increase in energy that will allow you to more easily cope with other stressors, like emotional stress from work, relationships, being stuck in traffic.

Stress eating:  you eat to get through an emotional stressor like a bad day:   stress, anxiety, etc.  This is when we may eat and keep eating and end up in a food coma – its numbing.   I relate this to a storm,  you come into the kitchen and begin eating as much as you can, and then the storm dies down.  You are using food to cope with whatever is going on in your life at that moment.

To end stress eating, the first step is to recognize that you are not physically hungry, rather emotionally hungry.

Cravings are a signal to you.  They are your body’s way of talking to you.  They are sending you a message that something is out of balance, either with your food or your emotions.   And it’s not just what you are feeling intense emotions about when it comes to food, it’s what’s causing those intense emotions in you. 

So your emotional eating is really not about the food, its about what’s behind your cravings.    

The question then is “What is your food covering up?”

If we eat emotionally, whether it the stress eating, boredom eating, unconscious eating or fear eating, we have to shut down our present awareness, our consciousness, for a time period so that we can binge on what we are eating.   We do this so we don’t have to be conscious or present with our emotions. 

Stress Reducers
  1. Becoming present with your emotions:  Do not choose to just eat through them.   One way to start doing this is journaling.  Keep a journal and write in it in the morning or at night.  Find a quiet place for a few minutes and just write down whatever comes to mind.   If this activity is difficult for you, just start out by writing one thing that went well in the day and one thing that didn’t go well and how it could have been better.
  2. Eating for Energy:  Emotions that are stressful or full of anxiety, fear, worry cause stress in the body.  Stress depletes our energetic stores, so we go looking for more energy usually in the form of sugar and quick energy.  But what we want to do is begin eating for energy.
  3. Water: is going to keep us hydrated.  This is very important because the signal sent to the brain that tell us we are hungry is almost identical to the signal for dehydration.  We sometimes mix these signals up because we are too busy (stressed) to pay attention.  Staying hydrated will help reduce our cravings.
  4. Whole Grains: help balance our blood sugar, unlike refined sugary carbohydrates, which affect our mood.  They are also  high in magnesium which helps relax our muscles, (or reduce stress.)

————————————————————–

Suzanne, this is some great info!  I believe that a consistent yoga practice along side with a mindful diet can really pump up the volume on stress reduction.  Yoga supports the ability for one to get more in tune with themselves and as such I propose that they would be more likely to be able to identify that they are emotionally hungry, rather than physically hungry.  (Yogi Bhajan used to say…”hungry for love.”)  I am going to suggest another means to leverage drinking water to reduce stress.  Today a large proportion of individuals are hunched over a computer desk all day long and rarely get up for breaks.  This causes repetitive stress and is not good for the minds balance.  I suggest regularly drinking water, which reduces hunger er dehydration symptoms to the brain, and over time will cause you to need to get up a relieve yourself.  This mixes up the pattern you are plugged into and helps with sanity as well.

Another means of alleviating stress is with herbal remedies. Yogi Tea provides an excellent blend for stress reduction in their calming tea.

Do you have any suggestions on how to reduce stress?  Please share!

5 Responses

  1. Priscilla Palmer Says:

    You have been tagged for The Personal Development List. I would love for you to participate.

  2. Yoga Novice Says:

    This post touches on a significant struggle in my life. I’m often even aware that I’m eating for the wrong reasons and not alleviating stress in a healthy way. This is yet another signal for me that I need to find a yoga or meditation practice to help avoid this trap.

  3. hershel Says:

    I can relate to you, I’ve recently realized that I need to monitor my portions. I’ve been slowly shifting my diet towards more nurturing foods, but I need to add portion control as well, because my body simply doesn’t want to process as much food as it once did.

  4. yoga blanket Says:

    Watching what you eat is very important when doing Yoga.

  5. Sarah Says:

    I would recommend you eat less fat grams.
    mexican yoga blanket

Leave a Comment

Your comment

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.


del.icio.us Digg it reddit