You’re finally out for dinner with friends at the new restaurant everyone’s raving about. They talked you into coming even though you tried to beg off because you haven’t had much of an appetite lately.
Besides, you have a million things still to do – as usual. You feel guilty for even taking time for yourself. But you’ll make it a quick night out then get back to your lengthy to-do list. Maybe even get caught up a little bit.
You check your watch, wondering how long you have to stay to be polite before you can rush back to work. Your stress level zooms upward as you contemplate yet another late night without enough time to get done what you’d planned.
When your food arrives, it looks delicious. But you take a few bites, then move the rest around with your fork, hoping your friends won’t notice you’re not really eating.
You know you should be hungry, especially with as little as you eat nowadays. Maybe it’s not healthy to have no appetite. But you’re losing weight and that’s good, right? Maybe this is the way to shed those last few pounds.
There’s just one catch:
When you’re so stressed you’ve lost your appetite, you’re experiencing one of the symptoms of burnout. And your instinct is correct: it’s not healthy. Especially if you’re at the point where you’re losing weight.
Let me explain.
Why Losing Your Appetite Is A Sign Of Burnout
When you go flat out through your life, constantly pushing yourself to do more, feeling stressed at tasks left undone yet piling more of them onto your “must do” list, you’re setting yourself up for burnout.
I know; we women have been conditioned to put everyone and everything else first. It’s not your fault that stress has become second nature to you.
And that’s where the big problem comes in.
Stress and burnout are closely linked. Too much stress that goes on unaddressed for too long nearly always lands you in full-on burnout. But why does it also take away your appetite?
Stress puts your body into fight or flight mode that causes various changes to your digestive system. Digestion is suppressed and your stomach stops breaking down food.
The fight or flight response is helpful if you’re in danger, but becomes a problem when stress triggers it over and over again.
When you experience prolonged stress, you can experience stomach and digestive issues, including loss of appetite because of elevated levels of cortisol, your body’s stress hormone. Increased cortisol often boosts the production of stomach acids, which speed up digestion and create a sensation of fullness. This full sensation halts signals to the brain that initiate hunger.
Fortunately, there’s a simple yet paradoxical solution to help you lower your stress, regain your healthy appetite, and support you to come back from burnout: eat stress-lowering food.
How To Lower Stress, Get Your Appetite Back, And Get Off The Burnout Path
Food can help tame your stress in several ways. Some foods boost levels of the brain-calming chemical serotonin, which helps you feel happy and optimistic. Others can reduce levels of the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, to stop them from taking a toll on your body.
Now let’s dive in to which specific foods will help you lower your stress and bring you back from burnout.
- Carbohydrates: All carbs prompt your brain to make serotonin. I recommend you eat complex carbs such as whole-grain breads, pastas, and cereals including oatmeal. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest than processed ones, resulting in a steadier supply of serotonin for your body. You may find it especially helpful to eat complex carbs before bedtime.
- Vitamin C: Studies suggest this vitamin can curb levels of stress hormones while strengthening your immune system. In one study, people’s blood pressure and levels of cortisol returned to normal more quickly when they consumed vitamin C before a stressful task or event. So eat an orange or, even better, a green bell pepper which is one of the foods highest in vitamin C.
- Magnesium: If you’re low in magnesium, you may get headaches and feel fatigued, which compound the effects of stress. Just one cup of spinach helps you regain your magnesium levels. If you don’t like spinach, other green leafy vegetables are good magnesium sources, as are cooked soybeans or a fillet of salmon.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Omega 3 fatty acids can prevent surges in stress hormones. As a bonus, they also may help protect against heart disease, depression, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Aim to eat at least 3.5 ounces of fatty fish such as tuna or salmon at least twice a week.
- Black Tea: This one is a little surprising! But in a study that compared people who drank 4 cups of black tea daily for 6 weeks with people who drank another beverage, tea drinkers reported feeling calmer and had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol after stressful situations.
- Healthy Fats: Consuming healthy fats daily may protect you against the inflammatory effects of chronic stress – they’re one of the most potent anti-inflammatory ingredients in a quality diet. As a bonus, healthy fats help lower your cholesterol, ease inflammation of your heart arteries, and make getting diabetes less likely. Excellent sources of healthy fats include pistachios, walnuts, or almonds. Just don’t eat too many since they’re high in calories.
- Raw Vegetables: Crunchy raw vegetables are great stress relievers not necessarily for their nutrients, but because munching celery or carrot sticks helps release your clenched jaw, thus warding off tension.
- Warm Milk: There’s a reason drinking a glass of warm milk at bedtime is a time-honored remedy to help you sleep better. The calcium in milk provides a calming effect and soothes your stress. Give this remedy a try; you may be surprised at how effective it is.
I know this may be a lot to take in, but bear with me.
These tips work. I know because I’ve used most of them myself. I’ve seen how beneficial they are for the clients I’ve recommended them to. And if you want more, it’s easy. Simply sign up for my email list.
It’s Time To Get Back Your Healthy Appetite
Imagine being out for dinner with friends and actually enjoying yourself.
You can’t wait for your meal to arrive. You’re starving, and you know it’s going to taste heavenly.
The server puts your plate down in front of you. You lean over, smile, and inhale your food’s aroma. “Bon appetite!” you say to your dinner companions, before picking up your fork and digging in.
Though there are tasks still to be done, you’re not feeling stressed about them. This is your time to enjoy yourself; to nourish your body, and rejoice in your returned appetite.
You discovered you were teetering on the edge of burnout – maybe you had even gotten into full blown burnout before you realized it. But you committed to taking care of yourself; now, you’re experiencing the rewards.
If you’d like to have assistance with reclaiming your appetite and getting off the path to burnout, I’m here for you with a complimentary Break Free From Burnout session. In this 45-minute consultation you’ll:
- Get simple and practical tips for how to break free from your burnout symptoms
- Create a clear and compelling vision of the burnout-free life you want
- Tap into greater energy and inspiration
- Explore how having a partner on your journey will provide a shortcut to all that you desire.