Managing Stress: Nutrition

Healthy eating plays a crucial role in your ability to deal with times of extra stress. Carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals are all important for energy, mental concentration, and emotional stability.

Stress may weaken your immune system and increase your body’s need for certain nutrients. A balanced diet will help you stay focused, alert, energetic, and healthy during times of stress. However, if you live off of fast food or frequently skip meals, you are more likely to perform poorly or get sick during stressful times.

A daily multivitamin/mineral supplement (recommended for most college students) can be helpful, but it will not replace the role that whole foods play in maintaining a healthy body. Whole foods contain many substances, such as phytochemicals and fiber, which boost the immune system and maintain health.

Any discussion about eating and stress must include caffeine and sugar. Many people use high sugar foods to keep their energy up and caffeine to keep going when they need rest. Too much caffeine will contribute to poor quality sleep and add to the negative effects of stress on the body. Sugar will satisfy you in the short term, leaves you with less energy and more hungry after an hour or two. Whole foods will provide you with energy that will last for several hours.

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