Monday, October 4, 2010

Wellness Wit and Wisdom

By Maureen Deutermann, MSN, R.N.
Director of Community Education

It seems like life just keeps getting more and more hectic and stressful. Even positive change causes stress. No time to think about anything as mundane as healthy food choices, right? WRONG! In periods of stress, even more attention should be paid to how we are fueling our bodies. Why? When under stress, we need more of all nutrients and in particular B vitamins, which contribute to the functioning of the nervous system, and calcium, which offsets the production of lactic acid from tense muscles.

Ironically, when under stress we often give in to the temptation of allowing healthy nutrition to take a nosedive.We are so busy and distracted that we may end up grabbing some pretty unhealthy grub. What’s a stressed out team member to do?? Here are some suggestions:

Adopt a nutritional “mantra”; anything that triggers you to think before you eat. “Garbage in garbage out” might do the trick!

Be prepared. Instead of becoming so ravenous that you find yourself wildly emptying quarters into the nearest vending machine, spend some time the night before planning and packing healthy snacks and lunches.

Eat smaller, more frequent meals to keep blood sugar levels steady. Include sources of protein as well as carbohydrates in your snacks to give your energy level more staying power. Low fat cheese, peanut butter, and hard boiled eggs are good sources of protein. Team with whole grain bread, crackers or pretzels for the carb part of the equation.

Avoid or consume in moderation: Caffeine, which can increase nervousness, impairs sleep, and sucks up your reserve of B vitamins. Alcohol: also depletes B vitamins and can be disruptive to sleep, not to mention affecting judgment/thought processes.

Avoid concentrated sugar/sweets, which can cause an immediate surge in blood sugar only to ultimately result in an extended “low”: translation: you may start out with a zing but an hour or two later you may find yourself crashed into your computer keyboard. Not a good thing!

Think fresh and “whole” rather than processed. Whole grain products and fresh fruits and vegetables will supply adequate amounts of magnesium and Vitamins B and C, all of which are needed even more in times of stress. Don’t rely on a multivitamin to take the place of good nutrition; they can be helpful but can’t replace the health benefit of whole fresh foods.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to get enough sleep, take time to exercise, play, read, socialize; in short, take good care of yourself.