Stress eating is probably one of our most encountered complaints I hear from members in the meeting room. You know the drill—a rough day at work, school or with the kids can lead to a food frenzy. All good plans and intentions to eat healthy go right out the window. You reach in the pantry for a granola bar and somehow pull out a candy bar. You open the fridge for a yogurt, close it and reach for the ice cream in the freezer. How does this happen? Why does it happen?
No matter what it looks like for you, stress eating is just a last-ditch effort for some sense of control. The problem is…gaining a sense of power by overeating or eating the wrong foods just doesn’t work. The trouble and the worries that cause you to resort to overeating are still there and you actually lose a sense of control when you turn to food for some sort of comfort or reward. The guilty ramifications just amplify the initial stress that you were hoping to stifle with the wrong foods.
Okay, okay. So what can we do? That’s an easy one..we have to find ways to reduce our stress! It takes a lot of work and it’s not always clear where to begin, especially when you have a whole lot on your plate. But here’s how I like to think of it: my mind can be in a hundred different places with a hundred different worries so de-stressing worry-by-worry isn’t a real option in my fast-paced life. Not that I can’t begin to find actual ways to reduce those things that cause my stress but before I even begin to tackle that, I need to de-stress from within. I need to start with myself. That’s something that I sometimes find difficult because I want to solve all the outside problems first.
I’ve found, though, that without taking the time out to care for myself in the right, healthy ways, I am less able to fulfill my many roles and handle my life well. For me, exercising, eating good foods, and spending quality time with my family and friends are ways that I am able to de-stress and prepare for oncoming challenges without sabotaging my goals. These things help me handle myself in all aspects of my life so much better. For you, you might want to add things like crafting, cooking, playing music, or being outdoors—the list goes on.
What’s important is that you find your niche; look inside yourself and care for yourself. What do you like to do (not HAVE to do) that brings happinesses and a sense of contentment to your life? When you delve inside yourself and come up with this answer, you’ll find healthier ways to nourish your mind and body rather than feed it. You then stop the guilt-cycle right in its path and will find yourself in a better position to handle all that life throws at you because you feel good about you!