By Ashley Koff, RD, Organic Connections Nutrition Editor
Stress occurs on so many different levels, but all stress impacts the body, in particular the digestive system, which impacts everything from your energy levels and risk of illness to your appearance; so it’s a great idea to start your stress management plan ASAP to ensure that you stay your healthiest self. Here are my favorite tips:
1) Stress happens; don’t stress about it. Seriously, this is so important I made it the first point. Despite the planning—even a stress-management plan—there will be unexpected things that make this time stressful, no matter what. That includes eating or drinking things you might not normally, missing exercise, getting less sleep than desired, not using the perfect words for communicating your thoughts to loved ones, and so on. So the best bet here is to manage your expectations upfront.
2) There is no room for perfect when it comes to nutrition or health, so don’t aim for it. Likewise, despite this being a time when many want to dial in their nutrition for appearance goals (and hopefully health ones too), it’s not the time to come up with the “perfect” nutrition plan. Any plan that I build with clients has considerations for imperfection built into it from the get-go; that’s why I call it Better Nutrition, Simplified—not Perfect Nutrition.
3) Find ways to get your CALM. Life will for sure be hectic, so it’s a great idea to find the ways to get your CALM now—and notice that I said ways, because the same way doesn’t always work. For example, on some days yoga works great; others, you need a punching bag or a great spinning class—or you actually don’t need a workout, but you need a bath or a nap. Just like no one food always satisfies a craving, no one CALM satisfies all stressors.
4) Need more energy? Careful you don’t add more stress! We love our caffeine, foods and fitness for their “energy”-enabling impact (energy is in quotes because caffeine alone is a stimulant, not an energy source; you need calories for energy). But too often what we do in the name of getting more energy can actually contribute to more stress. Does your coffee come with milk or calcium-fortified nondairy milk? Are you grabbing a yogurt before or after a workout? Are you lifting weights or adding lunges to tone and tighten? All of these can be great choices to enable you to be the super human you need to be to pull off this wedding. But they can also be your kryptonite. That’s because they can all contribute to increased stress at the cellular level if done to excess. The good news is that you don’t have to get rid of all of them, or any of them; you just need to find the balance.
Magnesium is my wedding gift to you.
Magnesium in the cells helps to combat stress by engaging our bodies’ natural relaxation mechanism. Magnesium works in opposition to calcium at the muscular level to help you avoid headaches, cramps, and even reduce the impact of anxiety. Magnesium tastes great—found in cacao, grains and greens—but often our food choices pre-wedding don’t get the attention we intend. So I recommend adding supplemental magnesium daily to help get and keep your CALM throughout your wedding. Oh yeah, do NOT stop your magnesium as you depart for your honeymoon; it’s the best travel companion (next to your new spouse, that is) to help you enjoy wherever you travel to on your honeymoon—even if it’s a staycation!