My patients are often surprised that I spend so much time talking with them about seemingly "non nutrition" topics such as stress and sleep. While at the surface these topics appear to be outside my scope of practice, in reality stress and sleep have a very intimate relationship with food, nutrition and health. Let's look at how.
Stress - blood sugar buster
"Stress" is not just an emotional or mental state. Your body is also under stress and releasing a cascade of stress hormones (like cortisol and adrenaline) after a night (or several) of less than adequate sleep, after and during very intense workouts and during periods of illness. You've all likely heard the old story that our bodies are adapted for the "fight or flight" response to activate in times of dire emergencies, like running away from a tiger in caveman days. Fortunately, not many of us have to run away from wild animals these days but the same stress response activates when we feel overwhelmed and anxious about life/ work/ family and we are not taking good care of ourselves with enough sleep.
Let's talk calories.
We call 'em kilocalories in nutrition nerd-land, abbreviated kcal. Same as what y'all know as a calorie on the food label. A calorie is a unit of measurement, describing how much "energy" you get from the food you eat. You need energy to do everything, from the obvious stuff like working out, to the more subtle body processes like your heart beat, your digestive enzymes and the work it takes your brain to read this page. We measure the potential energy available in the food we eat by calories per gram - Carbohydrates and protein each have 4 calories per gram, fat has 9, alcohol has 7.
When we get more energy (calories) than we can use.................
This is a controversial topic in the nutrition research arena.
Enter diet soda. No calories, no sugar. A popular choice among those trying to quit regular soda (we all know the higher rates of obesity and diabetes with regular soda consumption). Seems harmless right? You should easily lose weight if you switch over from regular and keep drinking the low cal stuff for ever and ever and ever? The holy grail of #haveyourcake and eat it too?