The Stress Eating Post You Weren’t Expecting

Stress Eating
It doesn’t matter what side you are on — this has been a stressful, combative week for all. On Tuesday, as the day progressed I found myself wishing Emma didn’t have a huge bag of Halloween candy still sitting in the pantry. I kept telling myself to resist the urge to stress eat my way through the bag of candy — I wasn’t exactly successful. Yesterday, I was determined to stay in control and not turn to stress eating to relieve the tension and anxiety I was feeling — I failed again. 
 
Stress eating is a fascinating mechanism. It’s how our brain tries to feel good when we feel powerless — and in a way it’s kind of an amazing display of how determined we are to feel good. Obviously I’m not going to tell you that it’s ok to always resort to stress eating every time you are stressed — but the thing is — food can comfort us and it can relieve those negative emotions temporarily and in extraordinary situations a little stress eating may not be the worst thing. But there are a few guidelines that will help you make the most of your stress eating:
 
Make it intentional
My Halloween candy binging didn’t improve my mood. I might have felt temporary relief for the 30 seconds I was eating but then the relief disapeared as soon as the M&Ms did. That’s because I was mindlessly stress eating — walking by the pantry, reaching in, grabbing the M&Ms and eating them while I fretted about the plight of our society. A better option is to make it intentional. Plan your stress eating — meet a friend for coffee and a pastry at your favorite bakery, plan ice cream sundaes with the family (I’m totally doing that this weekend), treat yourself to you favorite lunch and bring a good book to read while you’re eating. Whatever it is, plan it and make it intentional.
 
Don’t rely solely on stress eating
As I said, if food is your only solace from stress that’s unhealthy for you in many ways so look for other ways to relieve your stress. Even if you only have 5 minutes — get outside and walk, work on a puzzle, knit, do the crossword puzzle, draw, play an instrument, read a book, lie on the floor and breathe into your belly, clean house, garden. Find something you can do for 5 minutes so you can wire your brain to do something other than eat when you need relief from stress. 
 
Be kind to yourself
I had a brief moment of being mad at myself for my M&M binge. But in the grand scheme of things, one evening of overindulging doesn’t make me a bad person, nor does it make you a bad person. Our brains are wired to seek comfort and happiness. To judge yourself for doing that is to judge yourself for being human. 
 
Our country is in turmoil. These are stressful times. Don’t beat yourself up for turning to food for comfort. Instead, make it intentional and look for additional ways to find relief from the stress.
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