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Avoid Burnout Tip – Stress and Nutrition

April 21, 2010

This post is for those of you out there who are winding down your school year, and going about 100 miles an hour trying to fit it all in. Did you know that stress leads to raised cortisol levels, and raised cortisol levels cause us to crave foods high in sugar, starch, and fat?  If you already knew this, were you thinking it didn’t apply to you?  Well, it does.  It applies to all of us.

Recently, at the end of a particularly challenging class, I noticed people were bringing in all kinds of goodies to share with the group. In one evening, we saw rootbeer floats, those really sweet iced sugar cookies, candy. It was interesting to watch. I don’t eat that way any longer, so it was easy for me to take a pass, but most people were indulging pretty heartily. Of course they were – they were stressed. It was the end of the term, and many of them came to this class after teaching all day.

The sad news about this is, this kind of poor nutrition creates a vicious cycle. Eating sugary, starchy, fatty foods can wreak havoc with your blood sugar – causing you to have mood swings, feel fatigued, making it more difficult to concentrate. This is a kind of stress on your body. If you have some coffee or an energy drink to get yourself back up, you will raise your cortisol levels, and then you crave the sugar, fats and starches all over again.

If you keep this up, your immune system is compromised. Then you get sick or develop long-term health issues.

Do you see it? So, slow it down just a touch. Pay attention to your own behavior. Make choices that won’t sabotage yourself – because if you wear yourself out in this way, you won’t be any good to anyone or to yourself.

Try this:

  1. Take the time to plan out your meals.
  2. Go shopping with a list, and stick to it. Don’t buy the junk – go with healthy foods. If necessary, slice up the fruit or veggies and put them in containers in the fridge for easy access. Although, many stores are offering pre-packaged already cut up fruits and veggies.
  3. Pack your meals and snacks the night before so you only have to grab and go the next morning.

Being prepared will help you avoid a huge problem.

Remember to take care of yourself. It’s important. You do important work.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Shauna permalink
    May 9, 2010 11:58 pm

    During strefful times at work, I alternate between bringing quick breads that I like to bake when and I am stressed and fruit bowls. I feel better about sharing when it is healthy, but I know we all like banana bread too…

    • May 11, 2010 2:00 am

      Shauna, that sounds fairly healthy, yet still comforting. I like to bake when I’m stressed too. I’ve had to learn to watch that, though. My baking suffers if I’m not in the right mood. It can be kinda humorous.

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