Balanced nutrition during stressful times can be your best coping tactic. When pressures in your life increase—particularly during a stressful period such as a divorce – good nutrition can be your saving grace.
The foundation of getting through any stressful time with your health intact is:
1. Learning good coping skills
2. Positive, nurturing self-care
3. Maintaining a nutritious, balanced diet
Balanced nutrition is vital during times of stress because proper nutrition reinforces our resistance against the effects of stress when our physical and mental health can weaken. When the body is exposed to prolonged periods of anxiety, the adrenal glands actually shrink. The adrenals are known as your “glands of combat”, meaning they control the “fight or flight” response, put your body on high alert and in turn:
• Increase heart rate
• Increase blood pressure
• Control the amount of oxygen you breathe in
• Regulate your eyesight
• Cause the liver to release extra glucose, or sugar, into the bloodstream to provide an instant energy burst
Knowing this; you can understand how the prolonged, negative effects of stress can cause damage to your body. So, what can you do during a divorce to ensure good adrenals heath? Be vigilant that you are consuming all of the essential supplements and nutrients in order to ward off stress:
1. B Vitamins
The collection of B vitamins are essential nutrients in your fight against stress because they support the adrenal glands as well as your body’s entire nervous system. B vitamins also help maintain regular blood sugar levels, which during times of stress can weaken your energy production and immune system. To get your vitamin Bs, be sure to consume meats like beef liver and salmon; veggies like broccoli, legumes, lentils and
corn; soy, citrus fruit; and good fats such as nuts, sunflower seeds and eggs.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is vital to your health because it work antioxidant wonders on the body—helping to improve immunity, lowering cortisol (or stress hormone) levels, reduce blood pressure and blast the negative symptoms of stress on the body and mind. To get your daily dose of vitamin C, consume fruits in the citrus family, melon and mangoes; as well as veggies like tomatoes, broccoli, and red and green bell peppers, and other green leafy vegetables.
If you didn’t know, magnesium is the essential nutrient for muscles -which our bodies are full of and which are the first thing to get all knotted up when we’re stressed out! So on top of helping with muscle health and relaxation, magnesium also regulates heartbeat, and eases insomnia and anxiety—all very typical problems for those going through a divorce. To get your essential magnesium, consume foods that are high in dairy; meat and veggie proteins like eggs, fish, seafood and tofu; whole grains, leafy greens and nuts.
4. Amino Acids
Mood swings are a common problem for those undergoing the stress associated with a divorce. However, a diet high in amino acids, which actually support brain function, can positively influence your mood making you better able to withstand stressful situations. To ensure your diet is high in behavior-regulating amino acids, eat eggs, meat, fish and beans.
Things to avoid during stressful times
Now that you know what your body needs as far as essential vitamins, let’s flip that coin and talk about substances you should avoid if you are dealing with a stressful divorce your life:
Coffee, tea, chocolate…they all have the same thing in common. They’re loaded with caffeine—and caffeine will only increase your feelings of anxiety. If you absolutely need your morning coffee, try one cup of caffeinated in the morning and switch to decaf coffee for the rest of the day.
2. Fats & Sugars
Sugar-loaded, fatty-rich foods your body copes by secreting insulin, which reduces the amount of sugar in your blood stream causing what some of us know as a “food coma”. You may feel good after a tub of ice cream, but your body will actually fatigue due to lack of nutrients, reducing body and brain energy.
You can argue that too much alcohol will put you to sleep; however regular drinking actually increases stress as it disrupts sleep. Plus, alcohol use over a long term will damage your mental health by increasing existing depression, as well as damage your kidneys and your overall physical health.
When you experience prolonged periods of stress during a divorce, your heart rate gradually increases. Well, when you smoke, nicotine also elevates your heart rate. Double the heart rate equals double the health risks.
Bio: Bernice Spradlin is an avid hiker and runner and has been writing health and fitness related articles for a number of years. In her off time, you can often find Bernice jogging the East River path along the waterfront and enjoying the cool breeze.