Grab the tub of ice-cream or the bottle of wine? Perhaps you’ve never weighed up the implications of each option because when you’re stressed out you’re probably not really giving much thought about the nutritional value of your favourite block of chocolate vs a vodka martini. Well, at least not until it’s too late and you’ve scoffed both. Hello, guilt.
So if you had to choose just one, what is the best option? Let’s weigh up the pro’s and cons:
DOWNING STRESS WITH BOOZE
- Alcohol is a proven relaxant and stress reducer, and one glass of wine, champagne or vodka and soda (note I’m saying ‘or’ not ‘and’!) wont ruin your healthy eating intentions.
- Moderate consumption (ie a glass a day) of red wine is being proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular and heart disease by up to 40%. That’s one to two glasses though people, not a whole
bottle. Which leads me to a con:
- Your willpower declines with alcohol, meaning one glass could lead to two, which could lead to a bottle. Drowning your sorrows is definitely no way to solve stress, especially as a hangover makes everything worse. If that’s not bad enough consider this…
- Not only does your willpower for more alcohol decrease when you drink, but your willpower for bad food diminishes. Next thing you know you’re drunk, munching happily away on a kebab, followed by a full day of hangover eating. Two wrongs clearly don’t make a right!
- If you start to rely on alcohol to unwind, it may signal deeper problems, in which case it’s definitely time to save the alcohol for celebrations and abstain in times of stress. And seek professional help if things are really going downhill.
DOWNING STRESS WITH LOLLIES
When you’re stressed out that first sensation of sweet food is pretty bloody awesome. The sugar is converted to insulin quickly, so your blood sugar levels spike, giving you a high and fast energy boost. And if you’re like me (a jaw-clencher in my sleep) then the chewing action is really satisfying. If only it were easy to stop at one mouthful…
- Alcohol is alcohol, however sweet snacks don’t always have to be naughty options. If you’re after something that feels naughty, opt for dark chocolate over milk, or choose a friand over a muffin for portion control. Swap your ice-cream for frozen yoghurt or gelato, or even better, get a Yonanas - I guarantee you'll never look back.
Who eats one M&M and says, “oh no, I’m full. Thanks anyway”? Yes, when we’re stressed we eat mindlessly often until we feel sick, leaving us more stressed as blood sugar levels drop and the guilt of what you’ve eaten has kicked in. If it’s too late and moderation is no longer applicable, don’t beat yourself up; just go for a walk and increase your exercise the following day and make sure you eat healthily to compensate.
- If binge eating (or drinking) really is becoming an issue, please make sure you speak to your health practitioner and look into healthy ways to deal with your stress, including exercise and meditation.
If you can stop at one glass of wine or one vodka and soda, then alcohol is definitely my preference in reducing stress. But if you know binging is going to be an issue, then I say avoid the hangover and grab a Ben & Jerry’s mini tub.