Stress eating can be defined as mindless munching and overeating in response to feelings of pressure or emotional strain without presence of actual hunger.
Dear Stress Eaters:
Take a breath. We are all stress eaters sometimes.
Let’s face it though: being stressed doesn’t feel very nice. Generally, it is a feeling of dis-ease, we feel rushed, anxious, nervous, and scattered. We can be short with others, we tend to respond with anger and impatience, and we often disconnect from our selves, forgetting to take time for calming practices, regular sleep, and (you know it!) good eating.
It’s going to happen at some point. No one is immune to stress. In fact, a little stress can have positive aspects. It keeps us on our toes, gets us to work on time, fuels our multitasking powers, and stimulates our sympathetic nervous system… which we will be needing if we are ever to run from a lion or chase down a purse thief or a tantrumming toddler in the middle of the street!
However the negative aspects of too much stress span far greater territories than the positives. And at the top of our list is its effects on our health. When the stress-pot boils over, our once graceful and delightful food practices smash to smithereens and out comes the food shovel.
Definition: Food Shovel: shovelling food into the mouth with complete and utter disregard for the person or body, contents of the food, or how inappropriate for our mouth size the food pieces are.
The food shovel can become a crutch, a habit is formed, and a downward spiral often leads to withering health.
But it doesn’t have to.
Putting Down The Shovel:
Slow the Frick Down: contrary to what your stressed self might say, it is not a race. Quickening the pace in which you get food from plate to mouth will not in fact save you any time in the long run. Fast eating actually decreases how much intake we get from our food and puts a large strain on the digestive system. When we take too big bites and do not chew sufficiently, we don’t create enough digestive enzymes and our intestines struggle to extract the nutrients from the food, so it’s passed along partially undigested.
Schedule Time for Eating: I realize how crazy this sounds, but if you are a “stick-to-the-schedule” kind of soldier, than this is the tool for you! Pencil it in between meetings, calls, or whatever it is that is soaking up all your time, and take your half an hour lunch break. Close your computer and set aside your tasks temporarily. And breathe. And chew.
Have a Lunch Meeting: If it is necessary for you to have a meeting that day, make it over lunch. If you do this though, remember to keep tuning in with your self, taking small bites, chewing slowly, and savouring your food.
Connect Over Dinner: If you are stress eating, you are not connecting with your food. Facilitating a stronger connection with your meal is best done at the dinner table with the people you love. Involve your family in your mission to reduce food shovelling and have a conversation around this topic. For solo-diners, call a friend, have a phone date/skype dinner or invite them over.
Remember To Do Your Best Work: You cannot tell me that stress eating is a part of your best work. It isn’t. We do not function at our highest level of production just because we are increasing the speed with which we do things. Though it may seem backwards, decreasing speed and increasing focus could be the ticket to accessing your best work.
When we are not well fed, we are not well in the head. Put your self first and prioritize good eating habits, tune in, relax, and simply enjoy!