Have you ever found yourself in the middle of your pantry shoving food in your face, even when you were not hungry?
I bet your answer is YES!!!
I have contemplated this blog for weeks, as I, yes, the nutritionist, found myself in my pantry over eating on multiple occasions recently and felt the need to help other avoid stress eating.
The idea for this blog started on a Monday evening after engulfing the fourth snack in less than 10 minutes. The day started off great, nothing unusual. An early workout, a morning full of patients that I love and an afternoon with my 17-month-old granddaughter, one of my favorite people in the world. After she went home for the day, I decided that I had to make this phenomenal paleo bread with the berries that I had in the refrigerator. As I went into the pantry to retrieve ingredients, I spotted some plantain chips, which I promptly opened and shoved a handful into my mouth, then returned to the kitchen to make the bread. As I added ingredients, I realized that I had forgotten the orange extract and entered the pantry again.
This time the organic kale crackers caught my eye and began calling my name. I opened the box, grabbed a handful and ate them, then reached for more. Next up was the cashews. As I started munching on the chews I stopped a moment, looked around and wondered what in the world was I doing. Here I was again, shoving food in my mouth! UGH!! I stepped back, put the cashew bag down and realized that I was at it again…binge eating.
For many years of my life I struggled with binge eating, but not for quite a long time…maybe even 12 or more years. As a young adult, I would make myself a cake for dinner, eat the whole thing, then not eat for three days because I felt so bad and guilty, then I would repeat with homemade cinnamon rolls or other goodie…bread, pie, cookies…you name it, I binged on it. I loved baking from scratch and could do it without recipes or measuring devices.
I thought that I had put binge eating behind me, but realized I needed to reflect on the driving force behind my behavior. It was STRESS!! I knew it, I was stress eating, there was no denying it. I like to pride myself at managing stress and usually do it very well. Why was this time different?? Maybe it was staring a new business and transitioning another, while working full time at someone else’s practice, building a web-site(which was like learning a foreign language), learning social media marketing, seeing patients and clients, relocating offices, typical stress with teenagers, trying my hand at graphic design, contemplating my future, all the unknowns…maybe it was deciding to start a functional medicine health coaching class for the next year, all the struggles our country is going through, the violence between citizens and police, having a husband who is a police officer and worrying for his safety…the list goes on and on…but enough about me…you get the idea…I have had a lot going on in my life.
I needed time to reflect and get back to my “stress is not going to get me” mentality. After all, this is what I teach others to do for themselves. It was time to get back to reflecting on the good, not letting things out of my control bother me, get the best of me and cause stress eating.
If you find yourself stress eating and binging in your pantry or any other place for that matter, know that you are not alone.
Here are a few tips to help get you back on track:
1. Take time for yourself
I know that this seems easier said than done. Remember that you are important. People are counting on you to be your best which requires time to decompress. Hang out with friends, plan date nights with significant others, plan outings with your kids.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Take time to breath and reflect before blowing a gasket over dirty dishes in the sink or laundry on the floor. Getting upset and stress eating is not going to make you feel any better!
3. Get a good night’s sleep
Falling asleep and staying asleep is imperative for the rejuvenation and repair of the immune system and the organs involved with detoxification. Waking up rested sets you up for the day and helps you manage stress and avoid stress eating due to fatigue.
Set yourself up for a good night’s sleep:
- Avoid caffeine
- Avoid food 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Keep a regular sleep schedule
- Control light exposure: Avoid keeping cell phone, computers and other electronic devices in the bedroom
- Exercise regularly
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress
- Spend a few minutes with deep breathing or meditation prior to getting into your bed.
- Journal-Write three positive thoughts about your day.
Exercise releases the feel-good neurotransmitter, dopamine. Dopamine gives us that “high” that make a difficult workout worth every sweaty second. Go ahead, try it and see how you feel. Push yourself through discomfort and reap the benefits to help stop stress eating.
5. Eat a nutrient dense diet
Eat a nutrient dense diet, full of colorful vegetables and fruits full of phytonutrients, responsibly raised animal proteins, healthy olds, nuts & seeds, legumes, herbs and spices.
I hope you find these tips helpful to end your stress eating. If you feel you need more guidance and coaching to help identity stress eating triggers, manage stress, sleep better or work through life challenges, I would love to work with you one on one and get you set up for success.