Stress Management: Too Much on Your Plate?

Stress: A common word and a normal daily experience of the 21st century. With everyone’s busy schedules and going about daily errands of ‘life’, people often complain about types of stress they endure at work, at home and everywhere else.

It’s hard to cope with stress, but engage in this discussion. How does one deal with stress? By resorting to food perhaps? Does eating replace the feeling one endures during stress or help to produce a ‘feel good’ effect?  Why do people often resort to eating when they are stressed out? Many of us wonder about this common phenomena called “Stress Eating”.  We try to cope with stress through food; we eat foods that make us happy or calm our nerves – mostly unhealthy – and often high in sugars and fat. It should be mentioned that stress can trigger other unhealthy behaviors such as less exercising, loss of sleep, drinking more alcohol, which in turn add up to the calories in our body.

It’s almost second nature to often hear these phrases from co-workers, family members or friends:

“I don’t feel like eating. Not in the mood. I am stressed out”.

“I had such a rough day, I am so stressed out. I can’t even think about eating.”

“I have such a busy schedule – I can’t catch a break. I am extremely stressed. Someone get me some ice-cream!”

“There are not enough hours in the day! Talk about being stressed! I need some comfort foods!”

Studies have shown that stress, for a short period of time, can suppress one’s appetite. Stress for prolonged periods of time does however lead to overeating. This is caused by a hormone called cortisol released by the adrenal gland. Cortisol increases appetite which leads to overeating.  When stressed, admit it – one resorts to “comfort” foods such as pizza, French fries, Mac and Cheese, ice-cream, Cinnamon rolls, caffeine, sweets and many more. Stress is one of those things that just comes with daily life. How you deal and handle stress is key, and here are a few suggestions:

*Eating healthy is the key. Do you know that you can fight stress with food? Ironic but true. If you choose the right food, such as antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and grains we can boost our immune system, reduce stress, and feel healthier.

*Eat regular balanced meals and have healthy snacks in between. Avoid binge eating.

*Drink a lot of water.

*Exercise. It is a great way to relieve stress. You can practice yoga as well.


*Sleep, plenty of sleep!

*Get social support. Talk to a friend or a family member.

Like in the movie Forest Gump, he says “…life was like a box of chocolates. “You never know what you’re gonna get.” We never know where life will lead us to and we cannot predict how things turn out. Take it day by day, while taking good care of yourself and your family. Work towards minimizing those areas that lead to increased stress and put a plan in place to reduce the stress level. Speak to your doctor or your medical team about how you can cope with stress and options to help you manage stress.





This project is/was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number H80CS10607 Health Center Program, total award amount of $2,493,062 with 88.9% financed with nongovernmental sources. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.