Magazine article USA TODAY

Stressed out? Junk Food Won't Help

Magazine article USA TODAY

Stressed out? Junk Food Won't Help

Article excerpt

When people feel stress rising, most either stop eating altogether or binge on high-fat, high-sodium products such as chocolate or potato chips. "It's not unusual to hear someone say, |I was so stressed yesterday that I went home and ate [a whole] carton on ice cream and two bags of potato chips,'" points out Rachel Barkley, a registered dietitian at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. "But you never hear someone say, |I ate an entire crate of oranges and two bags of carrots.'"

Emotional or mental stress caused by work or home demands can be intensified because of the way individual choose to use foods in relation to stress. "If you stop eating or eat less because of stress, you won't meet your energy or vitamin/mineral requirements. If you eat everything in the refrigerator, on the other hand, you gain weight, which can contribute to fatigue and poor self-image. Either reaction to stress can result in a vicious cycle that's hard to break."

The best way to keep body, mind, and emotions on an even keel is to look at your eating habits and change them to get away from the "pyramid" style of eating. "Most people will start out in the morning having just coffee or juice and, if they're lucky, a piece of toast or a cinnnamon roll. As they go through the day, they get hungrier. Physiologically, it would be better to distribute your food intake throughout the day, beginning with more food in the morning and less throughout the day, rather than 'feasing' after five p.m. We recommend a minimum of three meals a day and between-meal snacks that are high in complex carbohydrates, such as bagels, fruits, vegetables, or English muffins. …

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