Hi, thanks for taking the time to watch this live video. This is the second video on the series of How to Get Out of Survival Mode and in this video, I discuss nutrition. My name is Chris Lindsay, thanks for watching.

Stress and eating.

Stress can influence our food choices, so when you’re stressed out from whatever might be stressing you, your boss or colleagues, what foods do you crave? If you can put comments below, “I crave–” whatever it might be. I know for me, chocolate’s a big thing. I’m a bit of a chocoholic, so that’s something I– When I’m being stressed out or run down, I’m always going for another chocolate bar. Another thing you might also call this is comfort eating, which often in the cycle of being stressed out, eating or craving sugary or fatty foods and then feeling guilty about it.

How does stress affect the body?

Stress triggers a release of chemicals in the body, things like cortisol and adrenaline, and these lead to spikes in blood sugar in the bloodstream, increase in blood pressure, also heart rate. Without a release back to equilibrium, it can just lead to remain in high alert in the cycle of short term food choices, wanting to eat sugary fatty foods, high energy foods and these, in fact, are actually biologically driven by the chemicals in our body, as our body wants to increase our high energy levels and food stores in preparation for fight or flight.

If you imagine thousands of years ago, when we were out on the savanna and we’re in a situation, we’re faced by a lion or tiger and it was literally life or death, so you needed those spikes in blood sugar into the bloodstream to run away or to fight for your life. The challenge is today, in our western, high tech society, it’s unlikely that many of us are going to be in a life or death situation, so we get stressed out from a work situation, from a boss or a colleague or whatever might be stressing you. Our body goes into a fight or flight situation, you get a spike in adrenaline, cortisol races into the bloodstream, blood sugar level goes up, heart rate goes up, blood pressure increases and we have these cravings for high energy foods, things like chocolate, ice cream, whatever it might be. It’s actually a biological response of our body driving us to increase our energy stores in preparation for fight or flight.

When you’re feeling stressed out and you go for that chocolate bar or ice cream, it’s actually a biological response and once you’ve had that chocolate bar, you often feel a little more relaxed, and that’s the body then knowing that it’s increased it’s energy stores in preparation for fight or flight, and then it actually lowers those levels of cortisol in the body. The unfortunate side effect of this is, we can put on fat around our middle, which is a store and again, it’s a biological response. Great design by the body in preparation for survival and looking after our longevity, but the side effect is we’re gaining weight and we don’t want it, and feel bad about ourselves and that cycle continues. This can also lead to negative impact of long term illnesses such as type two diabetes, or heart disease over the long term, which is not what anyone wants.

How can diet help?

Stress, especially over long periods of time, leads to as I mentioned, spikes in blood sugar in the body, and leaves the body way out of balance, and the body’s constantly trying to battle to bring this spike in the blood sugar back down, especially when you’ve been eating these high energy foods and not burning them off by having to flee or fight for our lives. We’re stressed out, we’re not actually burning any of the stuff off and it’s just sitting there. High blood sugar as we know, is not ideal. If you’ve already got type two diabetes, it makes it worse and leads for increased potential of actually getting that in the long term. The good thing to do is to reduce our blood sugar levels by changing our diet. Eating foods which help to reduce blood sugar and to give our bodies some help, take the pressure off our body. Your body can’t constantly regulate it, it’ll lead to things like adrenal fatigue and type two diabetes as already mentioned. Things we can choose food wise, would be things like whole foods and natural foods, lots of non-starchy vegetables, plenty of vegetables- sorry, fruit, whole grains, pulses, nuts and seeds, complex carbohydrates. Which help to give you that kind of steady slow release of energy over a number of hours as opposed to simple carbohydrate to give you the spike and then that crash, which we’re all too familiar with. Caffeine is another thing which yes, I’m not saying don’t drink coffee or tea, but maybe regulate how much you have. Cut back on it. Maybe have one or two teas or coffee in the morning, then go for fruit in the afternoon. Just to try to reduce these spikes and just be more aware of going for this spike and crash, and you get that run down feeling in the afternoon which is never good.

Ideas for breakfast which can help set you up the day would be things like porridge. I have porridge every day. I know it’s not everyone’s favorite. It’s a little bland but you can make it a bit more interesting by adding berries, you can do overnight oats, and banana, maple syrup is also nice in there. That’s an example. You can have whole wheat toast with banana and peanut butter.

Ideas for lunch might things like whole wheat wraps, and soup or a salad. Dinner could be chickpea curry, which again is one of my favorites. Put in some spices in there like turmeric or cumin, which will be great for anti-inflammatory benefits, which can also be another side effect of stress, and you could help that with Quinoa or brown rice. Then snacks throughout the day, you can have nuts, seeds, fruit of course. Try and get those seven a day, which is always a challenge. Having those mixed bag of nuts and berries and raisins, whatever it might be, at hand is always good so that instead of being tempted go to the vending machine to get a chocolate bar or packet of crisps, you the nuts at hand ready to go, so you can snack on those and nibble away without having to be tempted to go to the vending machine to get that chocolate bar which gives you that spike and crash. Then just that feeling in the afternoon which is never great and then drives you to want to have more caffeine, and so the cycle continues.

I hope this short video helps you to recognize that those cravings you might be having are being triggered by stress and the biological response for your body to increase those energy stores of high energy food in preparation for fight or flight. This is obviously not ideal, so by just adjusting our diets a little bit. I recognize that making a big change can be scary and overwhelming to doing, and things like swapping out white rice, white bread, and pasta for things like brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta which can be great alternatives just to give you that steady release of energy throughout the day.

Please let me know in the comments the kind of foods you like to eat which give you more energy rather than just chocolate and those fatty high energy foods. If you try some of the examples like porridge and other things, please let me know how you get on with that. Of course, please watch my video last week as well which is on sleep. another thing which is vital for setting you up for the day, getting plenty of sleep. If you are feeling run down from lack of sleep, again can be another thing which can lead to getting the wrong kind of foods. Those high energy foods just to get through the day, but in reality it just gives you that spike and the crash which is never ideal.

Looking forward to see you online.

Thanks again for watching.


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