The Divorce Diet: Eating Right Under Stress

Divorce is one of the most stressful life events a person can go through—and it can really tip your scales… literally. Whether you’re an emotional eater or a stressed-out starver, you’ll need to rein in your unhealthy habits during your divorce so you can keep up with the whirlwind of changes you’re facing. Your Durham divorce lawyer can probably attest to the fact that divorce can wreak havoc on your health, and it’s likely the worst time to give up good eating habits.

Need a Pick-Me-Up? Dump the Coffee.
Seventy-nine percent of participants in The Food and Mood Project, a U.K.-based nutrition research group, said that cutting down or avoiding coffee had a positive impact on their moods.

Research suggests that going easy on sugar, alcohol and (we’re sorry to say) chocolate can also improve your mood and naturally lower your stress levels.

Reach for an ice-cold bottled water, a handful of carrots or an apple instead. These healthy snacks give you the energy your brain needs to cope with your situation. While they’re not known as comfort foods, they might actually be more soothing to your body chemistry than a carton of Rocky Road.

Alternatives to Emotional Eating
If your first instinct under stress is to open the refrigerator, you might be creating a vicious cycle that’s hard to leave. Stress causes your body to produce cortisol, which has been linked to cravings for sweet and salty foods. Naturally, the foods that taste best are those that are worst for our health—and that can cause even more stress that you don’t need.

Try using your social support network, including friends and family, instead of food. A brief chat, a quick visit or just getting out of the house with someone else can go a long way. Try journaling to express your feelings before you even get to the kitchen, or decide to exercise instead of eat.

It’s not easy to avoid the emotional eating trap, and if you occasionally get caught, don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, reach for healthier alternatives (like nonfat peach yogurt with fresh raspberries and canned pineapple chunks, or light ricotta cheese slathered with organic strawberry jam on a graham cracker).

Making Time to Eat during Stressful Days
Some people have an issue on the other end of the spectrum: they can’t eat when they’re stressed. Unfortunately, your body can’t cope with stress if you don’t eat—another vicious cycle that’s hard to escape. You need fuel to make good decisions, and during divorce, good decisions are imperative.

If food is the last thing on your mind when you’re stressed, set an alarm to remind yourself to eat. Grab something healthy and packed with nutrients, like a bowl of oatmeal, a cup of yogurt or something made with organic soy. Beans, blueberries, oranges and walnuts also go a long way in providing your body with the nutrients it needs to survive under stress.

Extreme Weight Changes from Stress
If your divorce is causing you to gain or lose excessive amounts of weight, see a medical professional. Ask your Durham divorce lawyer if he or she knows a local physician who can talk to you about the effects that stress is having on your weight and your health.