Is There a Link Between Stress and Diabetes?

Diabetes is a major health concern that can’t be ignored.  According to the CDC, approximately 29.1 million people in the United States have diabetes, with an estimated 8 million of those people being undiagnosed. They do not know they have this dangerous disease.

We all know that insulin is a way to manage the diabetes, but it’s also important to be aware of what can cause it or make it worse if we do have it. One potential indirect cause of diabetes is stress.

Many people may not associate stress itself with diabetes, but it’s definitely something to think about. Let me explain:

There are many different causes of stress. Sitting in rush hour traffic can be stressful, not being able to pay your bills can be stressful. Even Christmas shopping can be stressful. Each of us are different, and what one person considers stressful another may think is no big deal. But where the diabetes comes into play is HOW we deal with that stress.

When many of us are stressed, we turn to comfort foods. We eat the foods that make us feel better! I’m talking about the cakes, pies, cookies, donuts, ice cream, and chocolate. Thanks to gas stations and vending machines,the sweets are EVERYWHERE!

But here’s the problem: many of our favorite comfort foods are loaded with sugar that can spike our glucose and insulin levels. This is the last thing we should do, and this is especially true if you’re diabetic. These spikes can cause insulin resistance, which can increase your risk of becoming diabetic.  They can also increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body, which can actually INCREASE a person’s stress level.

In addition to sweets, avoiding foods that have a high glycemic index iis key to avoiding glucose and insulin spikes. Here is a list of common high and low GI foods:

Looking at this graph you can see a pattern: the foods that do the most harm are the man-made, processed foods, while the healthier foods are of the natural variety that you can grow in a garden.

Just because something tastes good does NOT mean it’s good for you! With that said, it’s very important we know what causes us to feel stressed, and how we deal with those situations.

Instead of using food to handle stressful situations, try a few of these options:

  • Exercise
  • Take a bath
  • Get more rest
  • Tell yourself it’s only temporary
  • Focus on deep breathing
  • Laugh
  • Listen to music you enjoy
  • Meditate
  • Get a massage
  • Play with your pet
  • Go for a leisurely walk
  • Chew gum
  • Try aromatherapy with essential oils

When we are stressed, it’s important to eat foods that will help keep the body strong during these times. It’s also important to note that when we’re depressed or anxious, there could be more to it than appears. For example, did you know a deficiency in B vitamins could trigger depression in some people? This is just one reason why it’s important to eat healthy foods when you don’t feel your best.

The following foods are great to eat during stressful situations:

  • Green leafy veggies
  • Blueberries
  • Pistachios
  • Dark chocolate
  • Fermented foods
  • Citrus fruits
  • Avocados
  • Green tea
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Beans
  • Beef

The following herbs are great for stress as well:

As we said before, comfort foods might help you feel better temporarily, but over the long term they can be devastating to your health. Every action has a reaction. People may not associate stress with diabetes, but how we handle certain situations may increase our risk for it.

There are several ways to deal with stress. Reading is a great way to relieve tension as well:

Diabetes doesn’t happen overnight. It is the result of doing things that are detrimental to your health over a period of months or years. How many people are taking medication to treat their diabetes, but continue to eat foods that spike their insulin when they are stressed?

If you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, don’t reach for the sweets that are everywhere you turn, try some of these healthy alternatives instead. Your body will thank you!

It’s critical we eat a healthy diet to maintain our good heath. get more great tips in my book The Diet of Success: Healthy Eating Tips For Hard Working Professionals, and The 3 Pillars of Strength: Increasing Your Physical, Mental and Spiritual Fitness.

Both available in paperback, Kindle, and Audible format.

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