Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What’s Eatin’ You......Can Get You Eatin' and Drinkin'

Ok... so I was sprinting down the stairs a couple of days ago.... landed crooked on my right foot and twisted the heck outta my ankle. I was out of the game for that day. Sat on the couch with endless ice packs & all I could think about was how much stuff I needed to get done, all the errands I had planned to do that day and what was gonna happen if I did not get all the stuff done and the errands finished. In a matter of about an hour, I had worked myself up into a tizzy and was having a stress and anxiety fit.

Well, like a lot of people, when this happens... I tend to turn to food to silence that little voice that kept nagging at me about what I could expect if I did not get my list of “to dos” done.. TODAY! I mean, what I ate was not unhealthy as I don’t keep “junk” in the house... but I ate too much of the good stuff. Wolfing down 3 slices of wholegrain bread slathered with natural unsalted almond butter in a matter of minutes. (and I am not a bread eater.) Then I inhaled about 2 to 2.5 cups of unsalted cashews and if that wasn’t enough.... had the hubby Bear bring home vegan fried rice from the local Chinese take out joint. (Ok, so this is not the healthiest request.. all that sodium and vegetable oil..) Those places give you enough for 5 servings...... but, I ate every last bite of it. All of this.. just trying to get rid of the stress and anxiety of not being able to get up and move about and move on with my hectic day.

Just today, I had a client tell me that she did fine for the first 3 days last week, but then Friday came and she got a phone call that really upset her and sent her into an anxiety tail spin. What did she do to calm her nerves? Food and alcohol.

Stress/emotional eating is one of the most difficult disorders to treat and to control as you never know when, where, why, or what is going to make you react. Other catalysts that can cause this type of emotional eating are lack of sleep and fatigue.

Looking and finding comfort in food is not only an emotional reaction; but also, a physiological reaction. When our bodies are stressed and anxious we can have uncontrollable cravings for sugar, sodium, fats and simple carbs, as these types of foods will increase the serotonin and dopamine levels in our brains and then what happens? We start to feel so much better....happy... and satisfied..... thus the meaning of “comfort foods.”

My advice to all of us that suffer from this issue is the next time we have this urge to “feed” our stress and anxiety... instead.... distance ourselves from that immediate environment if possible. Get out.. take a walk..... get in the car and drive away.... or go work out. If we can stay away for at least 20 minutes.... we can give ourselves the chance to work thru the issue and find a solution... WITHOUT the use of food or booze.

This sounds very simplistic, but I know had I been able to get to an aerobics class or go for a run or hop on my spinning bike instead of sitting around thinking about everything, I could have avoided my “crash and burn” feeding frenzy.

Until Next Time........



  1. Great post! It's actually kind of funny; I posted on my emotional eating issues a couple of days ago. Very timely:).

  2. Yes! I read your post back on the 9th! I meant to leave you a comment but was pinched for time as I was reading it on my Iphone.

    I have many clients now and have had tons of them in the past, with emotional and stress eating disorders. And when I tell them I sometimes struggle with that same issue, too... they are so relieved.. and a little surprised that their fitness trainer and wellness coach struggles with everyday "human" issues! But, we are human too! A lot of us are in this bizz cuz we have or have had issues.. and what better way to help someone else then to share your experience and the knowledge that we have acquired in our professions.

    It is certainly a minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week my week focus on gaining control of our environment and MAINTAING that control. Plan ahead..don't get backed into a corner. If you fail to plan... then you plan to fail. Especially with the holiday season approaching... this is THE tuffest time of year for my gang... very stressful and hard on each one of them.

    The next time you find yourself wanting to "munch down the house," try my suggestion.... remove yourself from that environment of where ever you are... get outside.. walk.. run... drive... workout....and think about "what is it that I am feeling or thinking that has put me in this position of stress, depression, sadness, anger.. whatever emotion. and then try to find ways to resolve that issue... wrap it up and toss it away....

    I also have my clients keep a daily journal... what they eat, when, #calories, how they slept, rate their anxiety and stress levels that day. If they wanted to reach for that candy bar.. or if they did reach for it and ate it.. what were they feeling? What was that little voice in their head telling them at that moment? Then we look over their journal together and try and work out what was bothering them....

    It ain't easy... that is for sure....This type of eating disorder is not something you are born with.... this occurs as a reaction to something that has happened.. whether in early childhood years, jr high, highschool, college years, first job, marriage, mid life... whenever. "We munchers" come in all shapes, sizes, ages, professions and usually more women then men.

    You take care and take it minute by minute :-)
    stay in touch!!! HUGS!

  3. Very true...we cannot digest and feel at the same time, so we go for the hardest-to-digest foods to numb our emotions! There's a huge spiritual aspect to eating...I know it was something I used to struggle with before I was raw vegan, almost to the point of a disorder. Now that I eat in a way that doesn't stifle emotion I've re-learned how to actually ENJOY the negative emotions for what they are instead of eating the heaviest-sitting food available (my big thing was always whole-wheat muffins...I'd make a batch and eat like half a dozen!). Great post!

  4. Great thoughts, kiddo!! "we cannot digest and feel at the same time..." I LIKE that!!! I am gonna steal it and start using it :-) Oooo......muffins..... I do so LOVE muffins too!! Thanks for your input and sharing!!