Whether you are following a particular diet for weight loss of for health reasons (or both), we have one important message for you: don’t let your diet stress you out!
The effects of stress
The effects of stress on your physical and mental health are well documented. Long term and unresolved stress negatively impacts your tissue health, hormonal health, your memory and concentration, your mood, your heart and blood vessels, your digestive health… and along the way you can become depleted in a lot of crucial nutrients so that it becomes more difficult to recover from these effects.
Effective nutritional therapists are always looking for ways to deal with this situation through diet. One aspect would be to reduce or even remove foods that seem to be difficult to digest and/or pro-inflammatory – i.e. to reduce foods that are stressful to the body. Sometimes individuals find it easy to drastically change their diet overnight, but on the whole, it seems most people need some time to adjust. Sudden radical changes can be stressful physically to the body, and also mentally and emotionally. This is counterproductive! And if you’re miserable about your diet, you’ll find it hard to stick to, and then you’ll punish yourself with guilt – even more stressful.
A kinder, gentler approach is usually more successful
So if you are concerned you have way too much sugar in your diet, for example, you may find it easier to gradually lessen your intake. Have 1 bar of chocolate a day instead of 2. Have smaller portions of cakes and desserts. Then have regular sugar-free days, then perhaps small amounts of sugar at weekends only.
At the same time, start to add in new foods and snacks that you find delicious so that you don’t feel deprived or punished. There are some great recipe blogs and cookbooks out there now with simple healthy options that are quick to make. If you have a good health food shop near you, then check their shelves for tasty snacks – but do read the ingredients, as sugar sneaks into a lot of “healthy” snacks and bars too.
Mindful, joyful mouthfuls
Finally, enjoy every mouthful that you eat. Whatever it is. When you savour your food in that way, your brain and digestive system receive more information about what you are eating, and will send you clearer signals about when you’ve had enough. What’s more, you’ll be listening.
The more you practise listening to your body, the more present you will be, which is a major aim of mindfulness practices. Being present is an effective way of calming and soothing your nervous system, of countering the effects of stress.
On our Bloom Holistic Retreats, we help you to make meaningful changes to your diet and health in a way that lowers the stress in your life rather than adds to it. We explain exactly how stress impacts your physical and mental health, and give you simple tools, recipes and the confidence to turn your health around.