Weight Loss Group is talking about stress tonight. We actually chose that topic before the events that led to my last post.
The problem with stress eating, is that it makes us feel better for a short time, then we get mad at ourselves for having eaten too much, and that increases the stress. By the time the next crisis comes, we're already stressed, and it doesn't take much to push us into eating to make ourselves feel better again.
So what do we do about it?
Here's some suggestions. Not everything works for everyone.
- Keep carrot and celery sticks, green beans, etc in the fridge. If you are going to stress eat, then fresh raw veggies won't do you any harm, and you won't feel the guilt and stress afterwards from having eaten them. Think of Bugs Bunny. He's got to be a stress eater - Elmer Fudd's got a gun pointed at him, and he's nibbling furiously on a carrot. Bugs never gets fat, because no-one gets fat eating carrots. This is your safety net. If nothing else works, be like Bugs and nibble those fresh veggies.
- Put a big "stop" sign on the fridge door. When you go to open it, stop and ask yourself why you are eating. If you are actually hungry, eat something healthy. If you're not hungry step away from the fridge go and sit somewhere quietly and try to work out what is happening for you.
- Distract yourself. Find something else to do when you are stressed: go for a walk, read a book, watch some mindless tv, scrub the bathroom, whatever.
- Start out less stressed: say "no" to things rather than get overloaded; break the big jobs you have to do down into little ones and give yourself credit for achieving the little things; learn that not everything has to be perfect.
- Look after your physical health. Physical, spiritual and emotional health are all linked. A routine of healthy eating and exercise will help protect you from becoming overly stressed.
- Relax: make a habit of taking time for yourself, to relax, to meditate or pray, to do relaxation exercises. Taking time out each day to intentionally relax will help to keep the effects of stress under control.
- Reflect. Keep a journal (or see a counsellor or psychologist or minister if you can't manage to do this on your own) to track what is going on in your life. Look for the patterns, and see what is causing the stress. We may stress eat at crisis points - but usually the stress is building up from any number of sources before the crisis causes us to lose control. If you can see what is causing stress, you can start to address it.