Get healthy

What about stress?

12:17 PM

We all keep reading it, how India is the diabetes capital of the world, and in pass of becoming the Grand Central for heart disease as well.
Medias keep writing and talking about it, and for most it’s all blamed on processed food and sedentary habits alone.

I say this is all true of course…BUT, no one mention stress, and how stress actually influence eating habits and lifestyle. And for once stop blaming the common man here, true we eat crap, but wouldn’t be just fair to dig a bit more and see why that is? Stress be it positive or negative trigger a release of various hormone in the body, which in turn influence our body to eat more of a certain food group to prepare that very same body toward what’s about to hit and resist. High level of stress for example increase the release of adrenaline in the body which prompt the muscles to work harder, which means more calories are needed and fast. In our ancestors before the age of processed food and supermarkets that might have prompted them to eat more fruits and add a few ladle more of rice and bread to their diet to cope with the temporary crisis.
The issue we have nowadays in cities is that stress is practically part of our daily life: Long working hours, polluted environment, noise, the housework load not shrinking, family duties, less free time…blame us all you want for being sedentary, but we aren’t superheroes. Days have 24hrs just the same as always, but we are just expected to do more, I wonder who after 12-14 hours of work stress has the envy or urge to go for a powerwalk, or spend hours in the kitchen making an entire meal all from scratch, beside even if we were eating only unprocessed food, the sad fact is that stress and all the hormones spike going with it would prompt us to eat more carbs and stock up for a upcoming threat.
In cave men days, the threat was tangible, right in your face, and the adrenaline rush could potentially save your life. In our urban jungle and corporate world, the threat is elusive, it’s called work pressure, boss urging you to meet a deadline, being a good performer, chasing a bonus, worrying about salary cuts, being abused by a client. They are as stressful as the lion running after the cave man, but in an office the adrenaline response by our body is wasted, physical boost in strength is not what will help one meet a deadline, but our body doesn't really differentiate between the need for physical energy boost and mental boost. The same hormones are released regardless.
The other main difference, is that our ancestor might have found themselves running for their life in order to survive, but once the threat was behind, there was a little time to recollect, and rest before the next threat.
In our current world…not so much, stress is there from the moment you wake up, to the time you go to sleep. Stress is a constant, adrenaline levels are a constant as well, it’s there right in your face, at all time, day in day out. No wonder that we are heading toward the health disaster we are heading toward, but is it really all our fault, or the carb rich diet? Wouldn’t it be time to just restructure work life a bit differently?

I’m insulin resistant, and while I know what to eat and not to eat, and am good about it in general, I’m also human, and yup I know that when stressed out, I will crave different food, and that if I don’t “indulge” my mood will take a drastic turn for the worse. And it’s not that I crave candies, or junk food, nope, mind you since I’m generally good about not eating these in huge amount or storing them at home, whenever I have a stress episode it prompts me to go for a second serving of whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce, or eat more bananas and other fruits, or go for more than one serving of nuts, and feeling hungry barely after 2 hours of eating a meal.
I saw that happening in Mumbai, the place was so stressful to me in many ways, and the whole weight loss I achieved being back on metformin went right out the window, I gained it all back, on healthy food! Since the day I’ve been back in Bangalore the stress level went down again for me, and in the past 3 months I managed to loose 3 of the 5kg I gained back in Mumbai. Not to say we are living in stress less bliss right now, far from it but it’s still far lower than before, and sure enough it is making a big difference for my metabolism. The fact I’m also having the opportunity to be out at the playground with Ishita is also a factor. But then that is my sole job, my career is taking care of my child, this is contrary to what some might say a full time job, and I’m fortunate to be able to focus just on that. There are days where this simple task alone is taking the toll out of me, and in those days I can’t help thinking how much more difficult would that be if I had another job on the side, how much more stress I would be under to perform well in both arenas? And how my health and the health of those around me would suffer in the process?
Would it be fair to blame me for not having the energy to cut and peel veggies to make dinner at the end of the day? Or relying on caffeine and sugar to just get me through a day at the office to still have a little strength left back home? And how can someone tell us go hit the running track or the treadmill after 16 hours of strenuous work both in the corporate world and on the home front? Dear healthcare providers, forgive the city dweller for the lack of exercise, stop reminding them what’s good for them, we all know it by now, instead focus on making companies understand the importance of sticking strictly to 8 hours of work a day with very occasional overtime evenings, make them understand that erratic shifts aren’t good for health, that there is a benefit in a longer lunch break, and a comfortable ergonomic workstation.
I still remember my 7 months in a call center, and how hectic that was and how these short 7 months did some damage to my health.


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