Picture this. Because of recession, your company is doing badly and you are nervous about losing your job OR To meet your deadline you must work overtime every day and on weekends OR There is an increased pressure on you from the top management to perform with inadequate staff or else you could lose the account. To make matters worse (If you are a woman) you need to take up your children’s studies as exams are nearing.. you wake up at 7 am leave the house by 8 am, work till 9 pm – return home exhausted physically and emotionally. You have no time to work out or eat right. Does this sound familiar?
Well at this juncture, I am with you, and I want to tell you that no matter how stressful your lifestyle is, there is always a solution which can help you stay healthy.
How does stress affect weight and health?
Stress impacts the production of six hormones. Even if one of these hormones is disrupted, you will tend to experience increased hunger and irritability & major mood swings. Apart from this, some of you may experience chronic fatigue, high blood pressure and headaches.
Higher than normal adrenaline levels (pumped out at the time of stress) can cause an increase in appetite and fat storage around the stomach. If your stress persists for 3-4 months, the body produces cortisol which stays elevated until the stress is removed. Sustained high level of stress hormones in the blood can impair digestion making you feel acidic, raise cholesterol levels, raise blood pressure, dull your memory leading to brain fog, slow down healing, reduce your metabolism, weaken your immune system and make you gain weight around your stomach.
I do understand that as a jet-setting executive, setting aside time for yourself will be one of your greatest challenges – but in the same breath even as is I say this – I also believe that once you clearly understand how your stressful lifestyle is affecting your health, you may want to make healthful changes in your lifestyle to improve your health status.
The corporate executive’s guide to staying healthy
- De-stress is a part of the prescription for regaining your health. Practise deep breathing whilst you travel to and fro from work. It just takes 5 minutes twice a day. You will experience instant relaxation which will counter your stress response.
- As far as possible carry your lunch from home. Your lunch should be simple such as jowar or wheat rotis with bran added (oat bran or wheat bran) in a 1:1 proportion. This lowers the glycemic index of the meal and prevents unnecessary weight gain, mood swings and energy swings. It helps you to keep full by eating much less (as high fibre is very filling). Have these rotis with green vegetables freshly prepared in the morning. You may have a portion of dal and raw salad along with the vegetables, this balances your blood sugar, prevents unnecessary food cravings and gives you loads of energy to deal with your day.
- In between meals, snack on peanuts and roasted chana. These provide you with fiber, protein, minerals and have a low glycemic index.
- Always have breakfast before you leave the house. Your breakfast should be a combination of protein and high fiber carbs like whole wheat bread with egg whites or steamed sprouts with chopped cucumber and tomatoes or a moong dal chilla and a few almonds.
- Make sure you drink a glass of tomato and carrot juice before your breakfast. It will provide you with loads of antioxidants.
- Switch to green tea instead of coffee as caffeine adversely affects hormone balance and triggers stress.
- Make sure you drink 8-10 glasses of water in a day.
- Be careful about alcohol, especially in the afternoon. It will make you feel sluggish.
- Eat a light dinner by 8 pm, if possible. It should be similar in composition to your lunch. If you get hungry by 7 pm to eat some fruits or you may order a clear vegetable soup to ward off hunger.
- Remember there is no substitute for exercise. You should manage 30 minutes time in your busy schedule to take a brisk walk every day. It could be in the morning or evening or even post-dinner.
Most importantly, I want to tell you that acknowledge your efforts in improving your health. Do not criticize yourself for not eating right or not exercising every single day. Do it at your own pace. Pat your back for your accomplishments. Do not get stressed about the fact that you have to eat healthy, or exercise. Let-it-become-a-part-of-your-life. It will take you a couple of days/weeks to fall into your new routine but never mind that! The fact that you have read this article and developed a will to follow the suggestions– you have taken a step in the right direction. All you have to do now is to make a beginning.
As Published on Nov 19th, 2018 in Hindustan Times.