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At least 30-50 times a week I hear this story, “Well, I was so stressed out from work (or my kids, husband, boss, finances etc.), that I couldn’t help myself and I ate the pizza (or the Chinese food, the bread, the Mexican food etc.…)” And, I think the same thought every time, “ What does that have to do with the food you put in your mouth?”

I don’t mean to sound harsh or uncaring. In fact, I care a lot. It matters to me how my clients feel. And, I realize that half of the battle is being able to identify your triggers so you can make the changes that are necessary. With this insight, I guide my dieters to write down not only what they eat, but also how they feel emotionally.  Why? If we can find a pattern, we can change the bad habits for good ones.

Stress is real, and powerful! The word ‘stress’ is vaguely defined. It is a feeling. People handle stress differently.  But, we use the word “stress” when we feel overloaded with the demands of our lives and do not know how we will cope with those pressures.  Sometimes the stress is good! However, it still makes us a little crazy! But, when the stressors are bad, that is what can affect our health and our diets. Stressors are the things we respond to in our world. Examples of stressors are other people, situations out of our control, dating, or even creepy noises. Usually the more stressors we have, the more stressed out we feel.

The problem with stress is that our body reacts to it by its fight-or-flight response. This is our body’s natural, sympathetic nervous system response. When it kicks in, our systems send out larger quantities of the chemicals cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.  Cortisol is the stress hormone that causes the body to release more insulin. In the presence of excess insulin, our body cannot burn fat. Excess stress can make the scales stand still, even if you are eating well.

I have learned that we can control our insulin levels with the foods we choose to eat. We can’t control cortisol with food, we have to do that with other coping mechanisms; such as deep breathing techniques, meditation, prayer, and light exercise to name a few.

What I like to teach my clients to do is to make other choices when they are feeling extreme stress and to make a list of options to choose from, other than food or alcohol.

For instance, get a massage, write a letter, read a book, get a manicure or a pedicure, make a phone call, scrapbook, finish a project, craft, paint, or take a bath.  

If you feel the need to eat something, make it a healthy choice that will keep you on track. Do not allow the stresses of your life to be in control of your food choices. You can manage your response.

Listen, losing weight is not easy. But, being overweight is not easy either. Which one do you want to choose? They are both hard. 

WHAT DO YOU DO TO MANAGE YOUR STRESS BESIDES EAT FOR “COMFORT”?