Overeating from Stress
Going on a diet without first dealing with the stress that made you gain weight in the first place, and is now making you over-eat comfort food, binge, or any other disordered eating pattern is like putting the cart before the horse. It’s ignoring the major reasons that people eat too much or binge: STRESS! So if you’re stressed, and you KNOW that you need stress relief, don’t reach for “comfort food”- practice stress relief techniques first!
Diet Books Miss the CAUSE of over-eating
Every diet book I see advertised tells you that the only way to lose weight is to "eat less and exercise more". They tell you what food is bad and how to substitute some other low calorie food (that you hate) to lose weight, and even when to eat it. They tell you about controlling your portion size by measuring and weighing the food.
The only problem is: People don’t overeat on purpose. It HURTS to overeat! You feel bloated and uncomfortable. And then you hate yourself even more for overeating. That’s because you’re not eating because you’re hungry- you’re eating because of stress. You even call that food the you eat when stressed out "comfort food!" The food may be comforting you while you’re sitting and putting it in your mouth, but not after you finish and then think about what you’ve just done to yourself! And you are ignoring what your body is telling you about whether you are hungry or when you've had enough to be satiated.
The answer is so obvious that people just don’t see it! You must manage stress in order to normalize your eating behavior. Because essentially, you are unknowingly using eating as a stress relief- but it’s NOT working! Your doctor may be stressing you out by telling you that you “need” to lose weight because of your BMI (he or she is ignorant of the actual facts about excess weight, BTW). Their advice is only contributing to your stress. And very likely your doctor is ignoring your symptoms and blaming everything on your weight!
IF your doctor tells you to control your stress, but do they give you a method to relieve stress? Not likely!
Stress relief methods
There are LOTS of ways to relieve stress that can help you manage your stress eating, also known as emotional eating. But the ones that work best are the ones you actually practice daily. Stress relief that you practice actually makes you more resilient so that the things that used to stress you out don’t have the same power over you.
That’s when you get into the zone of really managing your stress by eliminating your perception of, and reaction to things that used to really get to you. When you’re resilient those stressors don’t have that impact on your life. It’s kind of like water running off a duck’s back. So you don’t reach for the “comfort food” because you don’t need it! Isn’t that better?
Some of my favorite stress relief methods are:
- slowing your breath, and extending your exhale
- listening to calming sounds (from nature) or music
- looking at a photo of someone I love
- loosening and softening the muscle between your eyes (get rid of your frown)
- petting an animal (if you’re not allergic, like me!)
- getting out of your space and stretching (like doing a few yoga ‘asanas’ – poses)
- HeartMath’s emWave– measure’s your ability in REAL-TIME, to see how you’re actually changing your physiology and calming yourself down!
The thing that dieting articles rarely address is that over-eating and under-eating is a response to stress. And most of the time dieting is the result of being unhappy with your appearance. So why would you start a diet, and ignore the issue of dealing with the CAUSE of disordered eating or an eating disorder? Dieting is putting the cart in front of the horse! In order to increase the probability that weight loss and maintenance of that loss is at all possible, you must teach people a different way to manage stress without using food! If you want to get out of that cart and on the path to improved health weight management, subscribe to my Myth-busting newsletter and keep reading here to empower you to reject dieting!