If you are a person on Earth, you may refer to this or another scenario:
Your day is out of control – you find that you slept through your alarm or You're stuck in a traffic jam on the way to work or you get a really frustrating text or voicemail – and next you know that you're eating stress closest to you, and eat it almost pointless, maybe beyond Point of Fulness or Comfort .
Yes, we were all there. It is quite common to take food when you feel a heightened sense of emotion – especially fear or sadness – even when you are not physically hungry.
Stress is not fun, and it makes sense to look for food to cope with whatever you are feeling. Food offers the pleasure and comfort we long for in stressful times. You've probably heard or read that stress eating is a big problem, an unhealthy habit that needs to be broken down immediately.
I would like to tell you that it is a bit more complicated.
I actually do not think that something is wrong when looking for food in a difficult time. There were times when a bowl of ice cream was just what I needed after a crappy day. However, there is a difference between occasional foraging to calm oneself and the constant use of food to cope with the events in life. The use of food for dealing with life can be problematic if it is only your coping mechanism.
The truth is that life for most (er, all?) People will not be a walk park every day. Difficult things will emerge, and a healthy and sustainable approach to those things will depend on what practices you use to navigate difficult times. I've had so many customers who told me that they'll deal with their problematic eating habits as it gets better. You know, when they leave their stressful job, when they graduate, when they start this big project … the list goes on and on. The best time to develop a plan is now when you really need it and when it can really help you.
Need help creating this plan? Here are three things I entrust to all my clients to help them develop strategies other than eating stress-related foods.
. 1 First things first: make sure you eat enough throughout the day.
For many customers, one of the first things I think is taking time to eat satisfying meals all day long is when they get stressed out and running out. But perhaps the simplest and most direct thing you can do to reduce stress is to make sure that good, old-fashioned hunger does not cause you to eat responsively. It's not that you should not eat when you're hungry, it's more that you take what is closest to you and eat it senselessly, beyond the point of fullness when you are both emotionally and starving are.
Regularly balanced meals help to keep our energy stable throughout the day. And with balanced meals I mean meals that contain a combination of carbohydrates protein fiber and fat . Having a bag of chips sounds delicious (and by the way, I'm a pro who has chips), but usually it's not a satisfying snack. You may feel hungry an hour or two later.
In general, I recommend that people either eat at least three meals a day or eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. both works well! Just make sure you have at least three foods in each meal that you have at least three of the following: protein, fat, carbs and vegetables / fiber. Here are some examples of what it might look like:
- Tuna (carbohydrate) sandwich with avocado (fat)
- Chicken soup (egg whites) with potatoes (carbohydrate) and cauliflower (vegetables / fiber)
- Protein) Chili with quinoa (carb) and zucchini (vegetables / fiber)
Even if you feel hungry between meals, get some snacks! If you want maximum satisfaction with your snacks, try to put them together from at least two food groups. Here are some examples:
- apple (carb) with peanut butter (protein / fat)
- yogurt (protein / fat) with berries (carb)
- toast (carb) with cheese (protein / fat)  If If you want to make sure that you are feeding all day, this can be helpful in considering what your action plan will look like!
. 2 Create a coping toolbox.
In stressful times, having a variety of coping tools is a good idea. Consider whether this tool will actually help you cope with and process the emotions as you consider what is flowing into that toolbox. Here are three questions that are worth asking:
- "Does this tool help me find clarity and solution to the problem and I feel it?"
- "I use this tool to express my feelings to numb or ignore? "
- " Do I feel better after putting this tool into action? "
In my experience, people who rely on food to feel better do so, to avoid or numb unpleasant feelings. The problem is, in the end, even if you enjoy what you have eaten, you will not feel better in any real or lasting way that has put pressure on you. In addition, the elephant in the room – which has led, first and foremost, stress during feeding – has still not been addressed. Do I think that every time the stress increases, you need a therapy session with yourself? No. Sometimes it is perfectly fine not to spend a while dealing with what's going on. (That is, if you find yourself in an ongoing situation that is always stressful and overwhelming and feels like you can not come out, therapy may be a good option!)
All of this becomes one Problem You never (or rarely) have time to think or think about how to handle it, and then there are a series of reactive actions (grab the fries without thinking, drink too many glasses of wine, curse someone … You get my drift?) Here are some of my favorite coping tools:
- Call a loved one or send him a text.
- Practice deep breathing.
- Write down everything.
- Move your body (dance, yoga, weights, take a walk)
- Sleep well
- Watch your favorite movie
- Get in touch with your feelings (crying is useful here)
You can also use a combination of it to process your feelings and find clarity in these difficult times.
. 3 Do not worry that it will be perfect every time.
It is important to remember that there is no formula to do it right, and moreover, not even is it about making it 100 percent right the time. Eating can be a great opportunity to find out which action plan is best for you. And the wonderful thing is that we eat several times a day (I hope!), So the possibilities for exploration are endless.
I've found that people who repeatedly look for food to deal with emotions tend to feel ashamed and guilty after doing whatever they eat to deal with it. It's important to feel compassion for ourselves when we find out.
It's not the end of the world when you eat five pieces of pizza after the worst day you can imagine. It has happened and now is the time to explore all the other coping mechanisms that we will pull out of our toolbox when a similar situation occurs next time. Use this information to create your own action plan for the next time you face stress!
As a trained dietitian / nutritionist and certified diabetes consultant, Wendy is keen to educate communities about food in a herbal way that is accessible and culturally relevant. She is co-author of the 28-Day Plant-Driven Health Relaunch, co-host of the Food Heaven Podcast and co-founder of Food Heaven Made Easy, an online platform that provides resources for a healthy, balanced life. She regularly collaborates with national brands such as Quaker, Sunsweet, Blue Diamond Almonds and the Blueberry Council to create delicious recipes and curated multimedia content. When Wendy does not work on creative projects, she also provides her clients with nutritional advice and diabetes management in a clinical setting. It pursues an integrative and individual approach to nutrition, health and well-being. Follow Food Heaven on Twitter Facebook and Instagram .