You got digestive issues, gas, bloating and the like? Then you know exactly how annoying and inconvenient it is! It affects your mood, motivation and your overall state of well-being! It’s all you can think about – before every meal, during a meal, after a meal… I’m in the same boat and if you identify with this, then you are too.
One of the most common causes of a chronically upset stomach in this day and age is *drumroll please*… STRESS.
But… but… HOW?
When under stress, our bodies have a fight or flight response. They release a surge of two major hormones, adrenalin and cortisol. Now under normal circumstances, “Cortisol helps control blood sugar, metabolism, and other metabolic functions.” A surge of Cortisol however, “slows down unnecessary bodily functions like your metabolism so you can focus”. Now once the stress is gone, things go back to normal and everything is hunky dory. Peachy, right? Not for people like me who suffer from long term stress!
With long term stress, Cortisol levels remain elevated, slowing down your metabolism and increasing blood pressure and blood sugars! NOT GOOD!
Is my tummy stressed out? How do I know?
It’s fairly simple.
Are you constantly stressed or overwhelmed?
Are you constantly snacking or thinking about food (even after complete meals)?
Are your intense workouts followed by extreme hunger?
Do you find yourself struck by odd cravings at odd hours?
If you answered yes to three or more of the above, chances are your digestive issues are caused by stress!
So my tummy is stressed out, why should I bother?
Here’s the thing, “a slowed down metabolism means your tummy, the hormones and acids that aid digestion and your intestines are not functioning at 100% capacity.” This means, your food isn’t being digested properly, resulting is any number of digestive issues. Acid Reflux, Indigestion, Diarrhea and stubborn belly fat are just a few symptoms.
How to heal a stressed-out stomach?
Swell! Now that you have identified the root of your digestive issues, let’s get down to brass tacks. The whole “Quick Fix Diets” and “Lose Belly Fat Fast” spiels don’t work for one simple reason, long-term stress is a long-term issue that cannot be fixed overnight! It requires patience, healthy changes to your lifestyle and diet. “Oh and also, most importantly you need to deal with the root cause of it all by developing healthy coping mechanisms to deal with your stress.”
You’re trying to get rid of your stress, “it’s not going to be a one size fits all solution”. What you can do however, is get regular, consistent exercises, eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, relaxing walks, guided meditation and deep breathing. These are definitely going to help. What will also help is taking a long hard look at your diet and eating habits. Here’s a few pointers:
Bye Bye Midnight Snacking – My main issue was midnight snacking. Any of you who say you’ve NEVER EVER browsed your kitchen racks for a midnight snack, are either lying or have super-human control! I’d be lying if I said I never do it anymore, but I do make a conscious effort to have an early dinner and go to bed at a decent hour to avoid these cravings! (Psstt… Cosmix’s “Sleep Like a Baby” is GREAT for a good uninterrupted sleep cycle… go check it out)
Feed Your Gut – “What you eat is what you get.” Basically eat more of calming, soothing food, probiotic rich food like dahi and fermented foods and veggies like kombucha, buttermilk etc. Prebiotic rich foods like oats, garlic, ginger, legumes, leafy greens, berries are also pretty great and of course, our My Happy Gut mix that will work wonders for your digestion, I promise! But you really don’t have to take my word for it, try it for yourself!
Eat Your Bitters – Before you wrinkle your nose, hear me out! Bitter foods stabilise hunger hormones and even out blood sugar levels which tend to go for a toss when your cortisol levels are high. There’s more – “bitter foods stimulate the liver to produce bile, which in turn improves digestion and nutrient absorption.” Bitter Gourd, radishes, black coffee (in limited quantities), turmeric, arugula, galangal root, dark chocolate and raw cacao are all your friends!
Hydrate – Every health blog is saying it, I’m repeating it DRINK YOUR WATER! There’s a reason everyone is telling you to stay hydrated. “Stress and dehydration are closely linked and water is an essential part of healthy digestion.” Besides, the simple act of drinking warm water from your favourite mug can feel soothing by itself! Not your cup of tea? Try infused water, whatever works!
Eat Mindfully – Pay heed to what’s going into your tummy! “Eat your food when it’s fresh and warm and for the sake of everything you hold dear, please DON’T MULTITASK when you eat, (Uh uh… this includes texting and scrolling through social media) no matter how busy you are!” Just focus on just the meal in front of you. Express thanks for a wholesome meal, chew your food carefully, and take your time to finish your meal. Oh and also, steer clear of sugary drinks with your meal please.
Now you listen to your body and take time out to deal with your stressors, so that they don’t snowball into chronic gut-stress. Like I said, “Take stock of your routine and personality and mindfully tailor a solution that works for you”.
More importantly, make sure your new routine is not aspirational, but rather a solution that you will be able to stick with in the long-run.
Remember, all good things take time, so stick with it, make small changes consistently and be patient with yourself!