Taking care of yourself during times of stress

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During times of stress, it’s more important than ever to nourish the body. Several of my clients have done well on the Fast Metabolism Diet, but when stressful times hit — a family crisis, difficulty at work, a loved one’s illness — they find it difficult to stay nourished. Here’s why stress can make weight loss a challenge and what you can do about it.

 Stress and the body

When the body enters an extremely stressful state, it craves sugar.(Chocolate chip cookies, anyone?)

I like to call sugar, or glucose, the “crisis nutrient.” Your body needs it to keep you going, to feed the stress hormones, the adrenaline and cortisol, that are coursing through your body.

When you experience a sustained period of stress, your body never gets back to a restful state. You keep pumping out those stress hormones, which keep you craving sugar. They also tell the body to hold on to stored fat, rather than burning it for fuel.

Fighting stress-induced weight gain

Fruit up!

Instead of reaching for packaged sugary foods, stock up on natural sugar sources: fruit. Pick up a bag of apples or oranges and “fruit up.” That will help your body get through the immediate crisis, and give it the sugar it craves.

Phase 1 for one week

To get back on track, it’s critical to soothe and stroke the adrenals, regulating the production of stress hormones. That’s what Phase 1 is all about. But this time, I want you to stay on Phase 1 for a whole week. The whole grains, lean proteins and fruit on this phase will calm and soothe the body and get those adrenals the support they need.

Instead of the wheat and pastries you might have eaten when stressed in the past, focus on whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and wild rice, which soothe stress without overtaxing your digestive system.

Once your finished your week of Phase 1, you should regain some motivation and be excited to get back to the Fast Metabolism Diet, shedding the weight, and hopefully the last bits of lingering stress.

Stress-fighting wellness tips

There are other things you can do to support your body and mind through times of stress. Flower essences, especially Bach’s Rescue Remedy, are a gentle way to calm your mind.

Self-acupressure is another technique for finding calm. Deep breathing, a brisk walk, and avoiding caffeine can also help.

27 Responses to Taking care of yourself during times of stress

  1. Lynda October 20, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    Yes, Haylie, I’m the exact person you’ve talked about. My husband has been diagnosed with cancer, and is undergoing chemo. He’s in a rehab care home about 1 hour drive on a fast freeway from our home. I’m finding it difficult to have him away from home, and my doing the driving to visit 3 times a week. Staying in hotels overnight is getting old, too. His chemo is going well, but I’m chunking on the pounds now, after successfully being on your plan from November 2013 to April 2014. I was very pleased with the results, and then disaster happened. My husband is 87 years old, he has a fronto-temporal dementia and exhibits all those traits, has had a heart attack, and now has mesothelioma. I’m challenged and stressed about the thoughts of one day having to bring him home and care for him here. I’m conflicted. I don’t want to feel that I’ve pushed him out of his home, but VA is paying for his nursing care as he is 100% supported by VA. That’s a burden off my mind (about the money aspect), but I’m suffering every night with guilt that I don’t seem to be able to handle looking after him anymore. I want to be with him all the time, but my body is showing signs of the stress and now I have a wicked head cold, so now I shouldn’t even go near him until this is gone. Thanks for your help with the program. I started two days ago just making the foods on Stage 1 and freezing the extra portions. Thought I would stay on Stage 1 for a while, and now you’ve confirmed it. I’d appreciate some help with the guilt, though. Thanks for your great program, and for your reply. Lynda

    • Christine, site admin October 20, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

      Hi Lynda. That’s a terrible struggle, and I’m sure as in most situations like this, there just isn’t one right answer. I know you’re doing the best you can, and I hope Haylie’s post will help you focus on yourself for little bits of time. Hang in there.

      • Pam October 23, 2014 at 11:04 am #

        Lynda, there are always a lot of guilty feelings that come to the grieving (your husband is still alive, but you are grieving all that you’ve already lost and could lose if he can’t survive the cancer). Tensions run high at times like this.
        It tempts you to wish the wrong things, because you are carrying more than you can carry.
        It sounds like you are doing the best you can. Don’t worry about the possibility of having to take care of your husband at home. Worry only makes you suffer something a hundred times and the actual event may never happen! If he does come home, you will have the grace to do what you have to then.
        Don’t guilt yourself. It only adds to the stress. Do what you can, let the rest go, and get plenty of rest when you can.

    • Sharon October 23, 2014 at 11:57 am #

      So sorry Lynda, to hear about your husbands health and all your stress. I lost my brother back in May. Had to fly to Maine for his funeral, bring back my 92 yr old mom, then back and forth to Maine twice since then to take care of my brother’s estate and care for my mom. I got very little sleep having to go thru my brother’s things, putting in storage, cleaning his home, dealing with family stress and drama, meeting with realtor, running around paying bills, taking care of business…it never seems to end…I will keep you in my prayers. We need to nourish ourselves when and as much as life allows. Sound like phase 1 for awhile-take care.

    • ellen leahy November 3, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

      Oh Lynda, you are in such a difficult situation. It is obvious you love your husband and are doing your best. I took care of my late parents and it was so painful to not be with them when I had to work.

      I got to a point with my mom where she had to go into a facility for the last few months of her life. I think that was harder on us than having her at home. But it became impossible for me to take care of her at home.

      Try to concentrate on your love and ask for help!

      I’ll keep you in my prayers.

  2. Janette Layne October 20, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    Thanks for your always uplifting suggestions. I always find them benifical. I love the diet. ..

  3. Kris Clagett October 20, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    Thanks! I gained more than I had lost when we were moving our business to a location and starting a second business at the same time. I thought my “go go go” was going to balance out all of the poor nutrition choices I made … WRONG! I will keep this in mind next time stress finds its way into my life!

  4. donna October 20, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    THank you for this. I teach and we are a failing school. The state department is with us and teaching has become a 48 hr job to do in 24 hours each day. Not sure about how many pounds , but I can just tell by the way my clothes fit. I will do this. I feel so week and worn out. Thank you again. This is a prayer answered. Was close to the breaking point.

  5. Loni October 20, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

    Hi haylie,
    I have been struggling with my weight for years. I watch dr. Oz everyday, I know what I need to do and start out with good intentions and always without fail fall off keeping my journal, I fall off on cooking healthy and when I start to walk on my treadmill at a slow pace, never running I always seem to hurt myself or show thesigns of my arthritis in my knees or something else hurts to set me back. I weigh 274 and am 5’3. I am 100 pounds over weight. I am really really discouraged. I am considering having a bariatric sleeve.
    What would you tell someone like me?

    • Christine, site admin October 21, 2014 at 10:17 am #

      I would urge you to join one of the Fast Metabolism Diet support groups on Facebook. These are closed, private groups where people can talk candidly about their experiences on the diet. I know there are people in those groups that have lost more than 100 pounds with the Fast Metabolism Diet, and it might be good for you to reach out to them. https://www.facebook.com/groups/503623556369614/

  6. Jodie October 20, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

    Dear Lynda, I am so sorry to hear about the stress that you are under caring for your husband. I wanted to reach out regarding your feelings of guilt. I too am a caretaker and I urge you to be kinder to yourself. Although we have help in our home caring for my 89 year old father in law at times the stress is almost too much to bear. I would urge you to listen to your heart and your body and let the VA care for him. They can give him 24 hour a day professional care delivered by a team of trained professionals that come in fresh for their shifts each day. My father in law cared for his 90 year old girlfriend until she died and then had a stroke two days later. That was no coincidence. Your body can only withstand so much. Perhaps even cutting back on how often you are traveling to see him while you regroup a bit would also be wise. It does not mean that you do not love and care about your husband. You are not pushing him out of your home. A very cruel and debilitating condition is doing that. This is such a sad time for you. I wish peace, Jodie

    • Susan Dorsey October 23, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

      Dear Lynda, I too had the same problem and crisis as you . I worked constantly for 23 years at the same job till I got laid off in budget cuts ( I was oldest one there and made most money .60 years old . I ate and stressed so much I weighed 240 was 5’4. Then I came into my Mom and Dads life and realized there was something wrong .My Dad had Alzheimer’s and Mom had same Dementia as your husband so I was a caregiver for the rest of their lives he was 88 she was 84 . They were married 63 year when he pass . But we had to put him in the VA he to was 100% covered ,he had a stroke and I couldn’t keep care of both of them .the VA gave him very good care we would go every day to visit. I felt so bad for having him stay there away from my Mom but it was the best thing for him I know deep down in my heart I could not care for him as good as they could . I started walking early in the mornings and trying the metabolism diet I kept care of my Mom for just 2 more years and lost her to cancer .That was a major setback for me I cried and was depressed for a long time but still walked and tried to eat right got down to 170 but I feel so much better now . But still go up and down with stress . I just use Phase One if I’m to stressed .Try not to feel so bad your doing the right thing ,you need to take care of yourself,and everything will work out for the best ,I no how hard it is . God Bless You

  7. Dee October 20, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

    Had a very stressful weekend.

  8. Julie Jimenez October 21, 2014 at 1:32 am #

    I’m on week 2 phase 2 and struggling! I have only lost 3 pounds! My parents are getting and I’m so stressed out & want to give up already! I’m a horrible cook and I’m living on a low income budget to buy all the food I need. I’m barely making it!

    • Christine, site admin October 21, 2014 at 10:22 am #

      Hi Julie. Hang in there. I’d suggest joining one of the private Facebook groups for the diet — they are a huge, huge support for people doing the FMD, and they have lots of practical tips on making it affordable too. https://www.facebook.com/groups/503623556369614/

  9. amanda October 21, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    My nephrologist is concerned there is too much protein on phase 2 for me. Are there modifications Haylie recommends for stage 4 CKD?

    • Christine, site admin October 27, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      Hi Amanda. I cannot make medical recommendations here — in this case, it’s important to work with your physician to find what works for you.

  10. Lorna Jahn October 23, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    Hi, I’m doing my 11th week of the diet. I have lost 30 lbs, which I am thrilled about, but the last two weeks I have only lost 1 lb. Any suggestions on what to do if you hit a plateau? I didn’t see anything in the book. Don’t want to start getting frustrated (or stressed).

  11. Teresa October 25, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    I need help, feeling panicked . I’m on sat week one. I haven’t lost any weight in fact I’ve gained.2lbs. I have 30 lbs to lose so I’m doing the extra 1/2 portions. I’m following the plan and drinking all the water plus some. I’m so thirsty all the time. Giving up caffiene and diet coke the first week has been tough. I want to trust the diet like she says in her book but I’m so scared it’s not going to work ESP w a gain the first week!!!
    I also have a question about about the fats, can u split them in a meal for ex 1/2 oil the oil serving and 1/2 the avacoda serving.

    • Christine, site admin October 27, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

      Hi Teresa. Yes, you can split your fats like that so you can have two kinds. As far as your weight, Haylie tells us she has clients that don’t lose at all for the first couple of weeks. It happens. But then it kicks in. Make sure you are drinking all your water, and eating lots of veggies. And keep your exercise to what Haylie recommends. A common mistake is doing more exercise thinking you’ll lose weight faster. Hang in there, Teresa. You’ll get there!

  12. Teresa October 25, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    By the way the weight gain is 2 lbs not .2.

  13. Lynda October 26, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    Thank you all for your replies to my stress letter. I can see that many people have had to make these difficult decisions. I appreciate your encouragement. I’m still where I was when I wrote, but a little calmer. I’m concentrating on day-by-day routines, knowing that we are all working through tough times together. Phase 1 for a week has passed, so I’m moving on to the full diet again. Tasty food stuck in the freezer. Joined the gym. Spurred on to give it a go. Sleep habits need reforming, though. Best of luck to you all. Lynda

  14. Denise October 31, 2014 at 4:04 am #

    Thank you so much for this article. I had done the plan, stuck with it, and lost several pounds. I gained a lot of muscle and i was only 5 lbs from my goal weight. But shortly after that, my father became critically ill And was hospitalized. We almost lost him. Since then, he has been in and out of the hospital, and as a nurse, i have adjusted my schedule to be with him and help him recover. Due to all of this stress, I have not only gained back all of the weight I have lost, but I have gained extra! I am definitely looking forward to a week of phase 1, with hopes that it will help me get back on the plan.

    • Christine, site admin October 31, 2014 at 10:21 am #

      Hang in there Denise — hope things start looking up soon.

  15. Winnie November 3, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

    I think I really needed this. But, will I be able to lose weight during this week?

    • Christine, site admin November 4, 2014 at 11:13 am #

      Hi Winnie. I can’t say — you might, or you might not. The idea is to calm your hormones and prepare yourself for metabolic repair.

The material on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and care of your physician.

As with all new weight loss or weight maintenance regimes, the nutrition program described on this website should be followed only after first consulting with your physician to make sure it is appropriate for your individual circumstances. Keep in mind that nutritional needs vary from person to person, depending on age, sex, health status, and total diet. Responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained on this website is expressly disclaimed.