Maintaining a Healthy Diet While Under Stress
November 13, 2014 | Published by Dr. James L. Wilson
It is hard to say which is more important when you are suffering from chronic stress- what to eat or what not to eat! Eating the wrong foods or combination of foods can throw you off for hours and even days, so do not even try to sneak something by; it is just not worth the price you have to pay. In this blog I outline the types of foods that are best left alone, and why.
The Addictive Cycle of Sugar and White Flour Products
Ironically, foods made with these ingredients such as doughnuts, rolls, pies, cakes, cookies, crackers, candy bars, and soft drinks are the ones that many people suffering from adrenal fatigue crave. This is because when you have adrenal fatigue you also usually have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and foods made from refined flour and/or sugar quickly raise your blood sugar. Unfortunately, they raise your blood sugar so high and so fast that too much insulin is released in response. This excess insulin then causes your blood sugar levels to crash, leading to hypoglycemic symptoms and more cravings. Furthermore, sugar and white flour are entirely naked calories, the metabolism of which drains an already depleted body of the vitamins and minerals it needs to heal or to maintain.
If you replace the items made with white flour like pies, cakes, cookies, crackers, most desserts, commercial breads and pastas, and all caffeine containing or sweet drinks like sodas with foods that contain nutrients and not just energy, you will quit robbing your body of what it needs. More than that, you will be able to get off the perpetual hypoglycemic roller coaster ride that leaves you fatigued, inefficient, and aging more quickly inside.
The Evils of Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils
Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats are oils that have been altered chemically to have certain properties (like remaining solid at room temperature) that have nothing to do with your health. Three common examples are vegetable shortening, margarine and the oil in commercial peanut butters. These adulterated fats are used in almost all commercially prepared food items found in grocery stores and in many restaurant foods.
The good fats are those that the body can use to build tissue, such as nerve and cell wall membranes, and the bad fats are the ones that block this from happening. When you eat foods containing hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats they disrupt normal fatty acid metabolism in your body. They use up the enzymes that normally would be utilized by the good oils, and prevent your body from creating quality cell membranes and nerve sheaths. As a result, your body cannot transform essential fatty acids into the materials it needs to make various cell wall components and other structures.
Any time you see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils or fats, put that food back on the shelf and do not buy it. Alternatives are available in health food stores and in the grocery store, if you look carefully. Even though you may crave these familiar foods, eating them seriously interferes with your ability to heal. What you are really craving are the essential fatty acids.
Avoid Deep Fried Foods
Most deep fried foods are fried in hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. These fats are kept at high temperatures and are often reused. As the oil is heated above a certain temperature or reheated, it breaks down, forming toxic free radicals and becoming rancid. This means that eating deep fried food causes not only the same problems as hydrogenated fats, but also the additional problems created by toxic free radicals. Because free radicals are produced when oils break down with heat, you should also avoid food fried in oils high in essential fatty acids (cold pressed sunflower, flax, peanut, safflower, etc.) or any foods fried at a high temperature or for long periods of time.
Avoid “Fast” Foods and Junk Foods
There are numerous problems with typical fast food and junk food. They all contain white flour, sugar, hydrogenated fats, or all three. Often their ingredients are poor quality with little nutrient value, and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives are used to make up for this. What nutrients they do have are frequently lost while they are kept hot or stored for long periods of time. It is questionable whether some junk foods are even food at all. You do not need these “foods,” as they only create havoc with your biochemistry, make you fat, and leave you feeling wrecked.
Avoid Foods That Trigger Allergies or Sensitivities
It is important to completely eliminate all foods and food substances that trigger allergies or sensitivities. Unless there is an anaphylactic reaction (cannot breathe) or hives, most people are not aware that their symptoms may be a reaction to a food they are sensitive too. For more on the role these foods play in your health, read our blog series on identifying and eliminating food allergies and sensitivities.
The Hidden Message in Chocolate Cravings
If you have a piece of chocolate once or twice a year, you can probably skip this section. However, if you crave chocolate, would almost be willing to kill for chocolate, or if chocolate is a coveted part of your diet, then you need to read this. A craving for chocolate can sometimes actually be your body’s craving for magnesium, since chocolate contains large amounts of magnesium. This is especially true in women who crave chocolate before they menstruate or who have PMS. Magnesium helps mediate the symptoms of PMS because it is intimately involved in the manufacture of progesterone. A lack of magnesium can lead to inadequate progesterone levels, producing the PMS symptoms. In the body’s wisdom, it craves chocolate because chocolate is rich in magnesium. The unfortunate aspect, however, is that chocolate is also high in caffeine and a caffeine-like substance, theobromine, that over stimulate the adrenals leading to further adrenal fatigue.
About the Author: With a researcher’s grasp of science and a clinician’s understanding of its human impact, Dr. Wilson has helped many physicians understand the physiology behind and treatment of various health conditions. He is acknowledged as an expert on alternative medicine, especially in the area of stress and adrenal function. Dr. Wilson is a respected and sought after lecturer and consultant in the medical and alternative healthcare communities in the United States and abroad. His popular book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome has been received enthusiastically by physicians and the public alike, and has sold over 400,000 copies. Dr. Wilson resides with his family in sunny Tucson, Arizona.