Nutrition and Stress Member Packet

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1 Nutrition and Stress Member Packet Section 1: Fun and Creative Ways to Manage Stress Incorporate some stress soothers into your daily routine to increase your sense of wellbeing. You can also use them to combat stress as it arises. Here is just a partial list to get you started: Pamper Yourself: Take a bath, do your nails, hang out in a coffee shop, take a nap, browse through a bookstore or library, get wrapped up in a hobby, take time to smell the roses, etc. Call a Friend or Loved One: Social support is an often overlooked factor in maintaining optimal health and longevity. Spend quality time with loved ones. Dance Like Your Pants Are on Fire: Burn off tension. Exercise helps to clear the stress hormones in your body and the endorphin release associated with exercise is an added bonus. So turn up the tunes and get groovin girls! It s guaranteed to make you laugh and feel better. Get Adequate Sleep: Sleep deprivation increases stress hormones and decreases one s ability to manage stress. The ability to concentrate and manage emotions is also affected. Adequate sleep is imperative for stress management, weight management, and health in general. Mind-Body Activities: Yoga, Pilates, tai chi, Nia, and qi-gong are great for centering you and creating space around your problems. Mail a Letter: Think about how wonderful you feel when you receive a card in the mail. Writing a letter or card sends positive energy out into the universe which is sure to return to you. Stretch: Stretching has many benefits and one is relaxation. Take a few minutes each day (ideally) or when you are stressed to stretch out. Keep a Journal: May people find writing down their thoughts and feelings has a therapeutic effect. Practice Gratitude: Making a list of all of the things you are thankful for (a sunny day, food in your belly, a roof over your head, a special friend, etc.) is a great way to feel positive and shift your focus. Spend Time Outside: Time spent outdoors and in nature is integral to staying connected to yourself and your home (Mother Earth.) 2012 Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD for Alpha Phi Fraternity 1

2 Get Creative: Knitting, coloring, painting, making jewelry, playing an instrument or any other creative endeavor can take your mind away from your worries and connect you to a deeper sense of yourself. Listen to Music: Listen to music that soothes your soul and stills your mind. Read a Good Book: Choose a book that is a pleasurable escape and gets your mind away from current worries. Volunteer: Spending time helping others who are less fortunate than you can make you feel great. It also can help to put your own problems and stressors into perspective. Change Your Perspective: Ask yourself: Is this going to matter to me a month or a year from now? Section 2: Quick Nutrition And Wellness Assessment Ask yourself the following questions. Circle the number of each NO answer in questions Circle the question number for each YES answer in questions Do you eat breakfast everyday? 2. Do you eat small frequent meals and snacks (instead of 1-2 large meals a day?) 3. Do you choose mostly legumes, fish, lean chicken, lean meats, or vegetarian alternatives for protein? 4. Do you limit high fat foods such as fatty meats, fried foods, added butter/ margarine, and whole fat dairy products? 5. Are most of your foods whole foods (instead of refined, processed, packaged?) 6. Do you take a calcium supplement or eat 3 low fat calcium foods a day? 7. Do you eat most of your food during the day (to avoid overeating at night?) 8. Are your meals relaxed and pleasant? 9. Do you eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day? 10. Do you exercise regularly? 11. Do you consistently practice healthy stress coping skills? (See section 1) 12. Do you get at least eight hours of sleep a night and wake feeling rested? 13. Do you talk to yourself with kindness? (Is your self-talk mostly positive?) 14. Do you tend to forget about eating until you are starving and then eat whatever you can find that is quick? 15. Do you have more than 5 drinks of alcohol a week? 16. Do you have more than 2 cups of caffeinated beverages a day? 17. Do you eat a lot of added sugar, candies, or sweets? 18. Do you try and eat perfect and then get frustrated when you make a mistake? 19. Do you feel uncomfortable eating around others or often feel guilty about your food choices? 20. Do you use food, alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs to manage your stress levels? 2012 Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD for Alpha Phi Fraternity 2

3 Section 3. Goal Setting Worksheet The numbers you circled in the Quick Nutrition and Wellness Assessment identify trouble areas in your current choices. Step 1: Choose one of the circled questions where you feel motivated to make a change and write it below. For example: 1. I skip breakfast before my morning classes. Step 2: Set a realistic goal. For example: Next week I am going to focus on eating breakfast before my morning class. Step 3: Brainstorm strategies to aid in reaching your goal. For example: I am going to put a sign on my door that says Don t forget to eat breakfast! I can buy skim milk cartons, breakfast bars, and fruit to keep in my refrigerator. I plan to keep a breakfast bar in my bag so even if I forget to grab other breakfast foods, I can eat that. Step 4: Evaluate your progress after a week. For example: I ate breakfast on M, T, W, Th (but forgot on Friday.) Step 5: Adjust your strategies/goal as needed. I am going to set a reminder on my phone that will go off 5 minutes before class, in case I forget again. I plan to keep this breakfast goal again next week. When I am ready, I can add another goal. Note: Consider keeping a food journal to better assess your choices and identify patterns. Keep track of why, how, and when you eat as well as what you eat. Use the questions from the analysis to evaluate your journal. For example: By reviewing my food logs, I noticed that I don t eat breakfast on M,W, F when I have early classes Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD for Alpha Phi Fraternity 3

4 Section 4: Nutrition and Stress- It s not just WHAT you eat, but also HOW and WHY Your choices about what, how, and why you eat have consequences that affect your health. Notice your current choices (without judgement, shame, or guilt) and ask yourself if they are serving you. If not, commit to making a change. Your choices about what, how, and why you choose to eat can: cause stress or help you to manage stress increase your risk of illness or aid in healing give you more energy or cause fatigue The good news is you get to choose! Note: Most people only consider the WHAT of nutrition- what foods they eat. But it is also important to consider the behavioral side of nutrition: the HOW and WHY of eating. If you want to make changes in your eating habits, it s usually best to focus first on the HOW and WHY. The WHAT will then follow. WHAT food choices contribute to stress? Choice: Eating mostly junk foods, soda, and caffeine. Consequence: A body fueled primarily by junk foods, soda, and caffeine cannot thrive or respond well to stress. You might get sick more often and feel tired all the time. Choice: Eating lots of sugary foods or simple/refined carbohydrates (i.e. white bread, white rice, sugary cereals, sweetened beverages, and candy) Consequence: Sugary foods and refined carbohydrates cause blood sugar highs and then lows. Energy levels are temporarily elevated but then crash low. These dramatic blood sugar swings can be physical and emotional stressors. Choice: Eating mostly whole foods. (Whole foods are nutrient-dense foods close to their original state. They are processed and refined as little as possible. For example: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds) Consequence: A body fueled with whole foods has all the nutrients needed to respond to stress. Whole foods also contain substances (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, etc.) that help the body manage stress, support the immune system, and stay healthy. In addition, whole foods tend to be higher in fiber. Fiber keeps blood sugar levels constant and therefore energy levels stay more level. HOW a person chooses to eat is often affected by stress. These choices are often made unconsciously out of habit. In that case, the first choice to make is to monitor your intake so you can make conscious choices! Consider keeping a food journal where you record what, when, and how you eat so you can discover your trouble areas Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD for Alpha Phi Fraternity 4

5 Choice: Eating very fast and/ or multitasking while eating. Consequence: When we eat rapidly, we often don t sense our fullness until we have overeaten. This can lead to weight gain. The same is true of eating while multitasking. Both can also cause indigestion. Choice: Skipping meals (and then overeating later.) Consequence: Affects blood sugar and energy levels. Can lead to unhealthy weight loss (or unhealthy weight gain.) Tip: Tune into your body throughout the day by assessing your hunger level. If you are starting to get hungry, have a snack or a meal. Don t wait to eat until extreme hunger sets in because then it is very difficult to make healthy food choices. WHY a person chooses to eat or not to eat: Ideally, we want a balance of eating for health and eating for pleasure or enjoyment. Often, people use food for other reasons, including managing stress. They may overeat when they are stressed, avoid food when stressed, or choose high fat, high sugar comfort foods instead of nutrient-dense foods that can actually help the body respond to stress. Choice: Ingesting caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs. Consequence: Caffeine, nicotine, and other drugs stimulate the body and can make you feel jittery and anxious. In addition, they (and alcohol) can lead to poor quality sleep. The body needs sufficient rest to combat stress and stay healthy. Alcohol and other drugs can also impair your judgement and lead you to make poor choices with stressinducing consequences. Tip: Before you eat, ask yourself, Why am I eating? You may discover you are not physically hungry, but perhaps are emotionally hungry. Are you eating because you are bored, anxious, or want to put off writing that paper? Tip: If you eat when you are stressed, ask yourself: Does that make the stress go away? If you are not physically hungry, what is it that you really want/need? What can you choose to do besides eat when you are stressed? Section 5. Making Choices to Improve Nutrition and Manage Stress Choose To: Eat breakfast. Be present at meals. Eat slowly. Plan ahead: bring healthy snacks with you to control hunger levels. Extreme hunger leads to eating rapidly, eating more, and less healthy food choices. Focus on eating the majority of your food intake in the first half of the day. (It s usually easier to make healthy choices then. Mindless eating and stress eating often occur 2012 Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD for Alpha Phi Fraternity 5

6 after dinner.) Studies show people who eat more in the first half of the day end up eating less total calories. Eat small meals/snacks that include some protein every 3-4 hours. (This keeps your hunger level under control which eliminates overeating later and eating rapidly. And it s always easier to make healthy choices when you aren t famished.) Choose whole foods: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, lean meats, and fish. Exercise to improve mood, sleep, fitness, and body image. Practice positive self-talk. Include fun and creative stress management skills into your daily routine. Spend some time outside everyday. Surround yourself with people who lift you higher. Evaluate your present choices without judgement. Make positive changes to improve your health! Talk to yourself with kindness. Be gentle with yourself. Choose to Limit: Sugary foods or sugary beverages. Having 2 or more servings of caffeine a day. Caffeine after 12:00pm as this can interfere with quality nighttime sleep. Junk foods (processed, packaged, convenience foods) and fast food. These are most often low in nutrients and fiber, and high in trans fats (aka partially-hydrogenated fats.) Diet foods with artificial sweeteners, additives, and preservatives. Eating on the run and/or while multitasking. Trying for perfection with your food intake. Focus on eating healthy 85% of the time, and don t worry about the other 15%. All foods can fit into a healthful eating plan. It s about moderation- not perfection! Your interaction with people who bring you down. Excessive exercise. Being sedentary. All nighters and insufficient sleep. Negative self talk. Author Bio Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD is a registered dietitian, health educator, and wellness coach who has dedicated her career to helping women be their best selves. In 1996, she earned her nutrition degree from the University of Minnesota while running and high jumping on a track scholarship. Kathianne also served as Vice President of Chapter Development for Delta Delta Delta. Her masters degree is in Health Education from Penn State. Kathianne has been interviewed as a national expert in nutrition, stress, and exercise for WebMD, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, and various other print and online media. She is a mama, a glitter-loving artist, and a serious Oprah fan who blogs at NourishCreateBloom.com Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD for Alpha Phi Fraternity 6

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