You are so stressed out and busy that your sleep is either long and restless or solid but way too short. So you wake up and start pounding coffee to get you going. There's no time to eat so by the time you get around to it you are starving. That in combination with the elevated cortisol (stress hormone) causes you to crave foods high in sugar, fat, and salt. Poor sleep, caffeine side effects, and blood sugar imbalance from poor nutrition finds you tired, moody, and finding it hard to concentrate.
This is a cycle in which too many of us find ourselves. There are, however, several things that you can do to stack the cards in your favor and regain control.
1. Cut out the caffeine after 2pm. OK, I know that i just lost half of you! I'm not saying get rid of it all together. Just switch to decaf in the afternoon. Caffeine stays in your system for 6 hours so even if you are one of the people with a caffeine tolerance it will negatively effect your sleep.
2. Increase your B-vitamins. B-vitamins support the entire nervous system as well as our stress response. They also aide in energy production so you will feel a natural increase in energy. Food sources include: liver, soy, broccoli, beans, lean meat, sprouted grains, salmon, nuts, and eggs.
3. Don't forget to eat, especially breakfast. I know I sound like your grandma but it really is the most important meal of the day. It will start your day off with good fuel and help you focus. Stock your pantry and office with easy options like oatmeal so you can make sure that you always have something on hand. While I'm at it, don't forget your jacket and would it kill you to pick up the phone every once in a while?
4. Make sure everything you eat contains protein. Protein supports brain function, which in turn impacts mood, behavior, and concentration. It will also give your sustained energy and decrease sugar cravings. No need to go Atkins with your protein (in fact, please don't!) but just include some with every meal. Food sources include: fish, meat, eggs, nuts & seeds, tofu, dairy, soy, beans & rice.
5. Add in some more Magnesium. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer. Not the kind that causes you to speak gibberish and pass out, but the kind that helps pull your tense shoulders from your ears and quiet your mind so you can sleep. It is also one of the minerals that American's are most deficient in. I recommend supplementing with a high quality Calcium/Magnesium Citrate
before bed. It will also help with muscle soreness from all the exercise you are also doing to relieve stress!
Tara Coleman is a Clinical Nutritionist specializing in sports nutrition, healthy weight loss and vitality.
For more information and nutrition tips visit http://www.taracoleman.com