I denied it for around 20 years: “I'm not an emotional eater. Emotional eaters are never satisfied with one meal. They eat all the time. That's not me.”
When 40 hit like a ton of bricks and my waist began to spread again, I had no other choice but to accept the truth. My truth… I’m a Stress Eater.
Stress is a form of emotion, so I am an emotional eater. My biological mother was too, and her mother...and 2 of my sons were showing signs already.
Stress is healthy. It keeps us motivated and is a natural biological response to life. It can motivate us, encourage us, and help us reach our goals. Stress becomes unhealthy when it is controlling your life, causing us to change our way of thinking or it changes our behavior in a negative or self harm way. It has a way of sneaking up on us and overwhelming us when we least expect it.
The way we process stress in the mind often dictates how we physically manifest our coping mechanism. Some people grind or grit their teeth resulting in severe tension headaches and jaw pain. Others may pace the floor or call a friend to vent. Then, there are those who are suddenly hungry. They don't just reach for a brownie to solve the world's problems, their mind has truly associated relief and comfort from eating. This results in the mind signalling stomachs acids to be released which signals back to the mind that hunger is upon us. When this genuine hungry feeling hits, we eat.
One of the best ways to process stress in a healthy way is to relieve it physically and then let it go mentally. The mind needs to be rewired to stop associating stress with hunger. Yoga and deep breathing are a great form of stress reduction. As you stretch and breathe in and out deeply, emptying your mind gives you freedom. You create an empty space that can be reorganized with helpful, encouraging thoughts that may bring you solutions to reduce your stress. This process doesn't come easy at first. Actually it's very difficult when we first start.
It can take upward of 30-45 minutes to calm the mind and empty those stresses. Once the mind is calm, it's time to reclaim your peace and space. Tell yourself these true and practical things:
None of this can be changed immediately.
I control my reactions, this doesn't control me.
Will this matter in 5 years?
This is a good day. It's only a challenge.
I am smart, strong and loved.
I woke up this morning. I am blessed.
Repeat slowly one at a time with two-three deep breaths in between.
After a few sessions you'll begin to feel encouraged and a little less stressed. You'll be training your mind to handle stress differently than producing unnecessary stomach acid that causes hungry and hopefully stop stress eating. It not only helped me stop stress eating, but has helped me deal with stress and the resulting anxiety. It worked for me, I hope you can find some relief this way too.
Christina is the queen Author of ChrissyAdventures. A highly sheltered Tennessee girl that began travelling only a few years ago. She seems inspiration in the small things. A coffee addict enthralled by daily adventure, she offers inspiration and support for those suffering depression, grief, anxiety and PTSD. Each day brings her closer to accomplishing her modest bucket list. She's a mother, grandma, and wife. This ADHD overcomer is multitasking her way through life one adventure at a time.