3 Ways You’re Stressing Out & Don’t Even Know It (And How To Stop)

February 24, 2014

Scary title, huh?  Sorry about that.

The rise in heart rate from reading this title is a great example of the mental/emotional stress you typically think of.

You stress about deadlines, quarreling with your significant other and you worry about your kids, friends and loved ones. You flip out when you’re running late and end up stuck in traffic – or behind the slowest person in the world at Starbucks. And you sometimes get worked into a cold sweat as you lie in bed, wondering how in the world you’ll get it all done tomorrow.

But the stresses that you probably aren’t even aware of are just as damaging.


Here are the 3 most common ones:

1. Food Sensitivities

Think a little gas or bloating from pizza is nothing more than your jeans feeling a little snug around the waist? Uh-uh. When you eat foods you’re sensitive to, you create a wave of inflammation that not only does damage to your system on the first round, but inflammation combined with stress creates a vicious cycle that just keeps going and going (thanks to a little cytokine called Nf-kappaB).

The most common food sensitivities are:

  • gluten,
  • dairy (casein and whey)
  • and soy.

Other culprits include egg, the non-gluten grains (rice, corn and the beloved, quinoa, etc.), nightshades (tomato, potato, peppers, eggplant, etc.) or honestly, anything. These may be the most common, but you could be sensitive to nearly anything particularly foods you eat a lot of (Chicken breast anyone??).

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Food sensitivities can be a bit tricky to track down. You can do an elimination diet like the Whole 30 or work with someone like me  to help you sort through it. You can also get tested.

Food sensitivity testing, I’ll be honest, isn’t as good as it could be. If you have a wonky immune system such as with Hashimoto’s (and 1 in 8 women do) then most testing is not accurate for you as it requires you to have a normal immune response….which you don’t. The best testing is through Cyrex because it tests both IgG and IgA, so you’ll get the most thorough assessment.

What I’ve seen with other common testing (like Alcat) is that most people with digestive issues come up positive to loads of stuff, which really indicates leaky gut and not true sensitivities.

2. Over-Training

Too much of a good thing. Too much exercise or not enough recovery (days off, foam rolling, sleep, etc.) can be very stressful.

If you find yourself not recovered from workouts after 24 hours, lacking motivation for another session, feel achy or looking puffy, starting to see more digestive symptoms (gas/bloating), breakouts, menstrual cycle changes or sleep trouble you could be over training.

How much is too much? You can’t look at what your fav fitness expert does or even what your girlfriend does and assume that’s what’s best for you. Listen to your body and be sure you’re doing enough restorative activities: walking, yoga and of course, sleep! Better yet, get this amazing little gadget and know for sure.

3. Blood Sugar Swings

It is a problem when your blood sugar is too high or too low. Both situations create stress in your body as cortisol or insulin try to right your ship.

Your blood sugar is meant to be in a tighter, more controlled range, and not swinging from high (i.e. after a sugary treat) to low (crashing after the sugary treat or skipping a meal). This can happen from eating a junk food diet, but it can also happen just by eating too many carbs or too few for your particular metabolism. You have to find what’s best for you, more on that here.

The sugar swing, as I call it, can also simply happen when your adrenals are worn out and you have a whole lot of trouble keeping your blood sugar up between meals. It can also happen when you’re insulin resistant and you have a tough time lowering it back down after eating.

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I’m sorry there isn’t a perfect formula I can give, but meal frequency and carb amount is TOTALLY UNIQUE to each of us. You have to find what works for you (the blog above will be a great help!).

Blood sugar swings, much like food sensitivities, cause a vicious cycle of inflammation and more cravings.

As you try to normalize a low blood sugar with carbs, you’ll stress yourself in about an hour when your blood sugar tanks and on and on it goes as you reach for the carbs again. I know I said 3 ways, but here are 3 more 🙂

Lack Of Sleep

I talked about this in the last post, but in short: you need enough sleep! It may be 9 hours for some of you, 7 for others. You need to wake feeling rested. If you don’t, your body is stressed.

Too Much Alcohol

Booze is a big stressor on your blood sugar and your hormones (particularly your estrogen testosterone balance, more on that here and here).

Nutrient Deficiencies

Your body is a complex chemistry lab and for good hormone balance you need this chemistry to be humming along.

The most common nutrient deficiencies are:

  • protein (either from inadequate intake or poor digestion)
  • zinc (30mg per day)
  • magnesium (dose highly individual, but try 400mg 3 times daily)
  • selenium (200mcg daily)
  • essential fatty acids (aim for at least 4 grams of fish oil per day).

That’s the overview, what-every-woman-should-know story.

More detailed blogs to come on adrenal fatigue, how stress makes us fat and what to do when your adrenals aren’t getting better. See ya next week!

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