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Chapter 8. Nutrition > What You Will Learn in this Chapter

What You Will Learn in this Chapter

  • To list the seven steps to good nutrition.

  • To determine which foods and vitamins facilitate stress resistance and which heighten your stress level.

  • To explain the role of setpoint in regulating weight and defeating diets.

  • To describe how to modify your setpoint to lead to weight loss.

  • To explain how weight affects your stress level.

  • To calculate whether you are overweight using the BMI (Body Mass Index).

  • To explain the role of activity level and exercise in affecting weight and setpoint.

  • To practice stimulus control methods (behavior modification strategies) for controlling weight.

The old adage “You are what you eat” is more true than you might imagine. Why is this? Because how well or how poorly you eat has a direct relationship to your ability to handle stress. Your body needs forty to sixty nutrients to stay healthy. When you are under stress your need for all nutrients increases, especially the B vitamins (which help you combat stress) and calcium. Calcium is especially important because it counteracts the lactic acid buildup created by muscular tension. If your diet is deficient in milk and leafy vegetables you could be calcium deficient; therefore, your ability to reduce high levels of lactic acid related to stress could be impaired. This would leave you feeling more fatigued, anxious, and irritable when under stress than if your diet were more balanced. You also need to realize that certain foods provide the biochemical building blocks for the neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that affect mood and behavior, and consequently your ability to handle stress. For example, your body synthesizes the neurotransmitter serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan, which is found in certain high-carbohydrate foods such as bread, potatoes, and pasta. Healthy levels of serotonin help you stay relaxed, sleep well, and have less sensitivity to pain. That is why we tend to crave carbohydrate-rich foods when we are in a bad mood—in order to get a temporary lift. And it is also important to know that protein-rich foods tend to improve concentration and alertness.



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