“I eat when I’m stressed”
Is that you?
For so many people it is.
As you probably already know, you eat to relax yourself and it does work, temporarily.
Eating does this by taking your mind off of whatever it is you’re stressing about.
You dull your feeling of stress and you get the “feel good” feelings in your brain from the food.
There’s no doubt that relaxation is happening.
But what else is happening?
There’s a physiological impact and of course an emotional one.
When you’re stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol, which raises your blood glucose. Glucose is released in your body for immediate use so you have energy available to use right away.
This is because our brain and bodies are designed for primitive stressors (literally running from death) not present day stressors (like deadlines and money issues).
Our stress is caused by something that doesn’t require us to run for our lives, yet we still get the same response in our bodies since our brain doesn’t know the difference.
Stress is stress.
That feeling we get while stressed is uncomfortable so we often look to eating to make us feel better.
But when you eat due to stress, glucose is still released for immediate use and since you’re not using it to expend energy, it becomes stored in fat cells. On top of that storage, you’re also bringing in even more glucose to be stored from the food you’re eating.
By eating when you’re stressed you could be adding more fat to your body than you would if you were just eating without the stress.
On the emotional side, you could be making your stress and/or your emotional state worse.
Yes, you’re going to feel the relaxation, but then what?
Depending on what your goals are, you could create feelings like guilt, regret, shame, or simply more stress. You’re inevitably trading stress for any of those.
Is it worth it?
There are so many stress relieving options out there and eating is probably the worst.
So why do you do it?
Because that’s what you’ve conditioned yourself to do.
Stress = eat.
The great thing about conditioning though is that you can decondition yourself. You can learn to not eat when stressed just as you learned to eat when stressed.
All it takes is repetition.
What would you rather do than eat when you feel stressed? Practice doing that until it becomes your new go-to action in stressful situations.
Who knows, you could become one of those people who exercises to deal with stress!
Now, let’s talk about why you feel stressed in the first place.
You may think you feel stressed because you have so much to do, but that’s not true.
You have things to do and your thought about those things is that “it’s so much!”
The part about it being “so much” is the story you’re telling yourself about what you have to do.
You’re creating your own stress.
It’s December, you probably have functions to attend, people to see, gifts to buy, planning to do, etc. and none of those are actually causing you stress.
How you’re thinking about them is.
Stress is caused by your thinking, not your circumstances. Remember, your thoughts create your feelings.
How you relieve your stress is optional and eating doesn’t have to be your only option. Practice doing something different. Get moving – your body is designed to do just that in these moments.
Even just watching a good movie or reading a book would be a better option.
It’s going to be fine.
You’re going to figure out how to fit everything in. It can all be done, and more.
Stop making situations worse by catastrophizing everything.
Stop thinking you aren’t capable of handling everything.