There is stress in my diet?
Yes! In fact, dietary stress is the stress that we have the most control over. Food, even “healthy” foods, can create inflammation which is a stress. Inflammation can result from eating too much, too little, or at the wrong times. However, the single biggest source of inflammation from eating is from food sensitivities.
What are food sensitivities?
Food sensitivities are either food allergies or food intolerance. True food allergies are less common, involve the immune system, and can be quite dangerous (like peanut allergy). Food intolerance happens when the body can’t fully process a food which leaves partially digested proteins and sugars. The body then mounts a response to these undigested proteins and sugars which creates inflammation. The effects of this response can occur up to several days later.
Inflammation is a type of stress that is chronic, and chronic stress is what causes burnout. So let’s take a look at three common food sensitivities:
The sticky problem of gluten
Gluten is a protein found in in three main types of grain: wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is a large and complex molecule that the human digestive system has a hard time breaking down. Because it is recognized as “foreign” by the body, the body responds and creates inflammation. With continued exposure, this can create leaky gut which worsens chronic stress.
Dairy is double trouble
Both the lactose (milk sugar) and the casein (milk protein) present in dairy can be troublesome. In addition to the common digestive symptoms of dairy intolerance (bloating, cramps, diarrhea, etc.), dairy intolerance also produces inflammation.
Soy is often a hidden threat
Because it is used as a filler in many foods (deli meats, chocolate, chicken broth, and many more), you may be eating soy without even realizing it. The reaction to soy is similar to that of gluten and dairy, and creates inflammation.
And those are only the top three
Even though the top three food stresses of gluten, dairy and soy seem to be everywhere, the fact remains that we have the most control over this type of stress. Reading labels is a great start, but also pay attention to how you feel after eating. Keeping a “food and feelings” journal can help track your food sensitivities. Because a food sensitivity reaction can be delayed for days, keeping a log of what you eat and how you are feeling really helps when trying to pinpoint the offending food.