Stress Eating

I have yet to find a person who is not stressed in some area of their life. Stress is something that can prompt us to do great things, or send our lives into a downward spiral. The “good stress” is often referred to as eustress. This is a moderate level of stress that is seen as beneficial. One type of eustress in my life is setting and working towards goals. In this sense, stress is a motivator, it’s short-term, and it feels somewhat exciting. I recently spent time thinking about what I want my goals to be for 2018. One of my goals is to be able to do a pull-up. This is a great example of GOOD stress – it’s challenging, yet exciting and motivates me to work towards it!

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In contrast, bad stress is called distress. This is most often what people mean when they say that they are stressed! Distress occurs when there is too much pressure that you feel a loss of control. This negative stress causes concern, anxiety, and decreased performance. During times of distress, we often seek out coping methods to take the burden off of ourselves. One coping method common in the United States is eating. I hear the words “stress eating” way too often! Food is often utilized, over-utilized, and abused in this way… After a tough day at work, we want to go home and eat a bag of chips and a bowl of ice cream. The temporary relief that food gives us is often followed by feelings of guilt for consuming unnecessary, empty calories! So what can we do?! What should we do?! I struggle with these same questions and choices on stressful days. It’s so easy to reach for that extra cookie to help myself calm down. Lately I have been trying a few new things to combat stress eating:

  • Lavender: When I was a child, my mom used to put dried lavender in my pillow to help me fall asleep. This little plant is a sensory dynamo and helps to relax the body. It is also very versatile and comes in many forms. You may be familiar with lavender essential oils, but those oils are derived from an actual plant that holds many of the same healing properties. I recently discovered a
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    Mine really didn’t look this pretty…  but it smelled great!

    bunch of lavender bushes growing in my apartment complex (side note… my new hobby is urban foraging). I picked some of the flowers and leaves and placed them in a mason jar with some water on my dining room table. The smell is so inviting after a long day at work! Another fun fact is that lavender is both a spice and an herb (depending on what part you use!).

  • Food Prepping: Prepping food for the week (specifically lunches and dinners for me) is so helpful in making the week run smoothly and reducing stress of having to run to the grocery store mid-week. I usually take some time on Sundays to cook a large meal and pack it away in Tupperware containers for use during this week. This takes some stress off of my nightly schedule in addition to reminding me to eat the healthy options I have prepared!
  • Hot Shower: This weekend my dad told me how he reminds himself daily to stay grateful. Before getting in the shower, he holds his hand under the cold water and waits for it to turn warm. During this time he is reminded of how thankful he is that the shower always turns warm! Remembering the little things we can be thankful for (such as a hot shower) can change our attitude and outlook. Now, I don’t recommend you get in a cold shower, especially when you are stressed, but just using that simple notion as a reminder if a good way to stay grateful. Once you get in the hot shower, take a deep breath and pay attention to the water hitting your shoulders and running down your body. This moment of mindfulness can re-ground you, wherever you are in your day, and help you to relieve some distress!

Take a look at the stress in your life this week. Is it good stress? Is it bad stress? How can you adapt healthy coping habits and fight the urge to stress eat? I would love to hear your comments below or on social media @spicegirlsnutrition ❤

-Pepper

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