Chew on this..... and not on your stress

By Adam Glasgow - 4/2/2017

Are you eating your stress? How does it taste? I am guessing not too good. I am also betting it’s not very satisfying no matter how much you eat.

If you feel stressed and you turn to food to cope, I’m here to tell you: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  Having spent hundreds of hours talking with people about their eating habits, there is no question that stress eating is one of the most common responses to life’s challenges and one of the most destructive to achieving weight loss goals.

These days, many, if not all of us feel uncomfortably busy and increasingly stressed. In addition to the typical challenges of life, we have the added burden of new technology. We are constantly subjected to phone calls, texts and messages many of which just bring us more work, anxiety, and burden.  We are also bombarded with a 24/7 news cycle that is often as tragic and frightening as it is unrelenting. Years ago, most of these stories would never even have made it into a newspaper. And on top of all this, we have our own more “traditional” worries about our kids, our health, our jobs, our finances, our parents, and on and on it goes.

It is no wonder that many of us turn to food in times of stress. In difficult times we look for comfort, and of course food is one of our instinctual, primal sources of comfort, taking us right back to infancy and childhood. For some people, food also offers a sort of “high” which not only mitigates pain, but may even offer a certain euphoria.  When stressed, we lose our focus.  We are less aware of our emotions and of our motivations. In these circumstances, we are far more likely to “stress eat.”

So what is the solution? Like all eating challenges, it is not easy. But here are some suggestions to help you defend against and diminish stress eating.

FIRST – Recognize the issue! The first step in problem solving is always acknowledging the problem.  Critically and dispassionately examine your eating behavior and determine if overeating or unhealthy eating typically occurs at times of stress in your life. If so, then decide whether you are ready to make a change.  Remember that “change occurs when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change.”

SECOND – Slow down! One of the most important things to do when facing any challenge is to slow down the process. When you are feeling stress, try to slow down your reaction to it. Instead of heading straight for the kitchen or vending machine, give yourself 10 minutes to think about what you are doing before you commit to taking that next step. By pausing, breathing, and reflecting, you decrease the likelihood that you will eat without thinking.

THIRD – Do something else! If your pattern has been to eat when you feel stress, commit to doing something entirely different. Get some fresh air or listen to a song or make a list of movies you want to see. By changing your environment or focus, you will triumph over your usual pattern of unproductive behavior.

FOURTH – Decrease your stress! This is the most obvious and the most difficult step of all. It is also the most beneficial.  There is no one among us who is capable of living an entirely stress-free, worry-free life. But that said, there are people who find ways of coping with stress that are productive and that mitigate the damaging effects. Adding regular exercise to your routine and getting enough sleep are a good place to start. Remember that asking for help from a family member, friend, doctor or therapist is a sign of strength not weakness.  Very few of us are as successful alone as we can be when we work as part of a team.

Every time I eat my stress, I remember how awful it tastes.  Let’s work together to find a way to stop you from eating your stress and also a way to stop your stress from eating you.  Often times just “speaking” your stress or pain becomes a means of releasing it:

Wishing you luck and success and not doubting for a minute that you will find it.


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