February 10, 2017

Avoid Stress Eating with Self-Care


In my adult life, I've been a size 2 and a size 12 - and every size in between. It seems the older I get, the less I care about the size of my pants and the more I care about how I FEEL. Lately I've been FEELING stressed. I'm not talking about the kind of stress that takes away my appetite and makes me lose weight - like when I went through my divorce. I'm talking about the kind of stress that makes me want to head for the comfort food.

I know that I'm not alone. In my circle of friends, especially my female friends, I'm hearing the same thing from almost everyone. We are stressed out by constant political posts on Facebook and Twitter. We are afraid of what might be coming down the pipeline. (literally and figuratively) We are worried about losing our rights. We are worrying ourselves sick - and that state of constant worry is starting to have a pretty dramatic impact on our bodies!


Back to the comfort food... Studies show that stress and worry causes your body to produce more of the hormone ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone. In fact, just thinking or worrying about something stressful can trigger a spike in ghrelin and cause your appetite to increase. Combine that with feelings of lethargy and the decrease in activity that typically happens during the winter months here in Minnesota and it's a slippery slope for weight gain!

You can break the cycle of stress eating before things get out of hand by pledging to take care of yourself. Practicing good self-care and making yourself a priority is super important during stressful times and can make a huge difference in your life. Here are some tips:

  1. First and foremost, PAMPER YOURSELF! When you want to reach for comfort food, recognize that you are seeking comfort. Give yourself something really special!
  2. Know that you're a stress eater. Stop buying those foods that trigger your binges and stock up on healthy food. Food will not make it better!
  3. Plan other things to do beside eat. When you know you're having a bad day, plan to go for a walk instead of watching TV after dinner. 
  4. Take a bad news break. Turn off all of your social media for 24 hours - or more! I know it's not easy, but it's totally possible. Just do it. 
  5. Replace eating with exercise to cope with stress. Not only will it divert you from the kitchen, but it'll burn calories, which totally doesn't suck.


If your eating is really out of control, check out a brand new book called Bright Line Eating by Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D. for help. It can help you identify foods that trigger addictive tendencies and teaches you to cope.

The author has a great vlog that you can follow free on her website, and there is one on Bright Line Eating When Times Are Hard that you should totally watch. Susan is amazing. You can pre-order the book on that page, too! I highly recommend it to anyone who binge eats or eats unconsciously. If you're like me, this book will change your life and the way you look at food. 




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