Toxic stress creates a number of problems with your physical and mental well being. And, even afterward, you may still have lingering symptoms. Luckily, you aren’t without hope. There are things you can do ensure the impact is lessened. Food and nutrition is one of those. We’re sharing 3 ways food can fight against toxic stress.
Recognizing Toxic Stress
Toxic stress is caused by abuse, neglect, and instability in the home. It could be your caregiver was emotionally or physically abusive. Or it happens when a parent suffers from mental illness or substance abuse. Even traumatic experiences such as a bad divorce can trigger symptoms of toxic stress.
These adverse childhood experiences (or ACE’s) put you at a higher risk for chronic illness including heart disease and depression. The brain, heart, immunity, hormones, and development are all impacted by toxic stress.
But, there are some things you can do to lessen the impact on your health. One of these is paying attention to your food and nutrition.
Give Your Body the Nutrition It Needs
Everyone needs good nutrition to stay healthy. From elementary school and on we learn about the food groups and how it’s healthier to eat the right amounts of each food group. But when you’re under extreme stress or you have experienced toxic stress in childhood, you need a little encouragement to take extra care of what you eating.
Additionally, much of our food today is nutritionally deficient caused by overly farmed soils and other high yield farming practices. It is also caused when we neglect to eat enough of certain foods.
Take time to plan your meals while including a variety of fresh or frozen vegetables, fruits, and proteins. And take a good multi-vitamin to help make up for any vitamins your body is needing to keep healthy.
Stay Away From Fast Foods and Processed Foods
Eating junk foods is a coping mechanism when we face stress. You see it on the TV shows when a girl just got broke up with her boyfriend and is eating the whole container of ice cream. While doughnuts and chocolate bars might make you feel comforted short term, long term it creates more stress to your physical and emotional well being.
Stress does a lot of things to us, including making us find everyday duties a drudgery. Cooking is one of those. So, instead of cooking, you grab takeout, AGAIN.
It all creates an unhealthy state in your body and mind. Sugar addiction, side affects from vitamin deficiency, weight gain, etc.
Just as you break out of the cycle of abuse or toxic relationship, you can break out the bad eating habit. Take time each week to plan healthy meals. Don’t feel badly about including some comforting foods in moderation. It’s okay to love food, just make sure it’s good quality food. Practice an 80/20 eating habit. 80% of the time you eat healthy foods, and 20% you leave to eat whatever food you want.
Learn the Joys of Cooking
Cooking from scratch can be a therapeutic hobby. If you’re never been that good at cooking, never baked bread, or made homemade pizza, you might cooking a rewarding hobby.
When you’ve lived through a traumatic experience, you may identify with the feeling of having no control over what was happening.
With cooking you are in control of your situation. You follow the recipe to create a dish that you know exactly what went into it.
Mixing ingredients and seeing them turn into a delicious dish is relaxing and satisfying. And when you include your children or spouse it can be a time to make healthy connections with them.
The physical work of cooking is also a healthy benefit of cooking your own food. It gets you up off the couch and doing something meaningful.
Wrapping it Up
If you have experienced some situation that has created toxic stress in your life, you aren’t alone. Unfortunately, bad things happen in our imperfect world. But, you don’t have to succumb to it. Something as simple as these 3 tips can help you start down the road to overcoming the effects of toxic stress.