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Heart Disease and Stress

Can What I Eat Help Fight Stress?

Your body is able to fight stress and heart disease better when you take the time to eat well-balanced meals. Eat a variety of foods each day, including lean meats, fish, or poultry, enriched or whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.

About 55%-60% of your daily intake of calories should come from carbohydrates, no more than 25%-30% from of your caloric intake should come from fat and 10%-15% should come from protein.

Guidelines for Healthy Eating

  • Eat a wide variety of healthy foods.
  • Eat in moderation -- control the portions of the foods you eat.
  • Reach a healthy weight and maintain it.
  • Eat at least five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • Eat food that is high in dietary fiber such as whole grain cereals, legumes, and vegetables.
  • Minimize your daily fat intake. Choose foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Limit your consumption of sugar and salt.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol that you drink.
  • Make small changes in your diet over time.
  • Combine healthy eating habits with a regular exercise program.

What if Sleep Problems Are Contributing to my Stress?

If you cannot sleep and it's causing you stress or making it worse, try these tips:

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Make sure your bed and surroundings are comfortable. Arrange the pillows so you can maintain a comfortable position.
  • Keep your bedroom dark and quiet.
  • Use your bedroom for sleeping only; don't work or watch TV in your bedroom.
  • Avoid napping too much during the day. At the same time, remember to balance activity with rest during recovery.
  • If you feel nervous or anxious, talk to your spouse, partner, or a trusted friend. Get your troubles off your mind.
  • Listen to relaxing music.
  • Talk to your doctor before taking any sleeping aid.
  • Take diuretics or "water pills" earlier, if possible, so you don't have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
  • If you can't sleep, get up and do something relaxing until you feel tired. Don't stay in bed worrying about when you're going to fall asleep.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Don't exercise within two to three hours of bedtime.

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Thomas M. Maddox, MD on May 15, 2012

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