Stress much? Sure, we all live stress filled lives. In fact, without a bit of stress we'd get less done, be less motivated, and our lives would be somewhat dull. Problem is, we usually perceive that the stress is reeking havoc on our life, and only in some cases is it really. Most of the time our stress gets blown out of proportion to what is really happening. We are good at magnifying our stress and we are very good at creating more of it.
Now that we have all this day to day stress, our ability to cope with it becomes the main issue. Many people resort to the use of substances to deal with stress. Coffee and caffeine, Sugary sodas, nicotine, alcohol, THC, CBD, Valium and Xanax, gambling, sex, anger, narcotics, and psychiatry are the various ways we deal with stress. Most people go to the biggest drug of all to deal with stress...FOOD!
Food becomes our friend and confidant, our relaxer, our calmer, our soother, our reward, and our zoning out partner. We go to sugar or savory items for stress relief, but after we've consumed volumes of our food drug of choice, we have regret and more stress that we are now gaining more weight. Now, More Stress! It can become a vicious stress, eat, stress, eat cycle.
Recognizing that you have this stress eating pattern is the most important thing you can do. Learning to decrease the stress in your life is next. Then changing your thinking to realize that stress is not as bad as we perceive it to be. I was taught many years ago, "If it can't eat you then it's not that big of problem." That may be oversimplifying it, but we get so overwhelmed by the little things. What someone said about us, too many activities, family obligations, trying to please everyone, trying to live the "perfect" life, and working at a job we hate are the most popular stressors. Slow down, learn to take some deep breaths and make some thoughtful and gradual changes in your life to lower those stress levels. Also, learn new techniques to deal with stress rather than reaching for the Oreos or Ice Cream.
De-stressors like meditation, reading a book, listening to calming music, taking a short walk, can all help distract your mind from the stress that keeps popping into your head. Learning to ask yourself "am I hungry or is this a reaction to stress?" can make a huge difference. If stress is interfering with your function, then a visit with a caring Dr. can help. Don't be afraid to get assistance with persistent out of proportion stress.
If this stress / eat syndrome is not controlled, your stress level will rise more with every 10 pounds of weight you gain. This can be beaten. This can be corrected. You have the power to get control of your life and emotions and learn to stop letting others control your thoughts and feelings. You are important and being able to live a reduced stress life and keep your body weight in a healthy range are worthy goals to achieve. Sometime today, take 5-10 quiet minutes to think about the stress in your life and if it is driving you to eat or toward other unhealthy behaviors. Do it today. You'll be glad you did.