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Over-stressed and over-eating?

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

Over-stressed and over-eating very, very commonly go together.

There's some definite pros to that; you look after the people in your life, you achieve great things, you conquer a lot. We can do this for months and years right?


Do you end up feeling:

- utterly emotionally and mentally drained. Like, zilch in the tank.

- self-care, what self-care? Must be nice for people to find time for all those bubble baths

- workouts get rescheduled and cancelled because there just isn't time, and you're too tired

- sugar cravings are THERE; all the time, and intense

- your confidence goes through the floor

- diets are necessary; surely they are the only way out of this

- out of control


Ok, real talk. Our bodies and our emotions and our cravings and our relationship with our food are the way they are because we have had to survive and adapt and get through some tough stuff. Your mind and your body and food are not your enemies.


BUT, all this that we're going through leads to emotional and stress eating. We all reach sometimes for the cake, chocolate, wine etc. when we've had a bad day, when we need a break or a treat. MY GOD GIVE ME ALL THE SUGAR kinda days.


Does this sound familiar:

- feel stressed, anxious and out of control

- eat everything in sight

- feel shame and guilt for what you just ate

- vow to never do it again

- create some more rules around those foods

- feel stressed, anxious and out of control

- eat everything in sight

- repeat


Yeah, thought so. Me too sometimes.


You do not need to be stressed out of your mind.

You can improve your relationship with food and your body.

You can take care of yourself and still take care of others.

You can learn to eat with your emotions.

You can feel confident in your own skin.


This is one approach to how to tackle this:


BREAK THE CHAIN


These behaviours do not come out of nowhere. The events leading up to the over-eating come many hours before and lead up to the over-eating.


So let's bring some awareness to these links in the chain, because when we know these patterns it gives us power. Choice.


1. Start with the event. What was happening around you at the time? Who were you with? What time was it? How were you feeling? What were you thinking?


2. Now track back a few hours, and ask the same kind of questions. What was happening at the time? Where were you? Who were you with? What time was it? How were you feeling? Where were you thinking?


3. Notice any patterns in the answers to your questions. Try this a few times, and see if patterns emerge. Be curious, no need to judge yourself. We are learning.


Sometimes, this in itself might offer a solution. I did this exercise with a client who tended up over-eat on 'junk' food weekly. After doing this exercise she noticed two things - she was always alone when doing this, both a few hours beforehand (away from her family) and during it. She also noticed the feelings around it - she was using the food as a reward for what she'd got through that day.


Once we knew this, there was more awareness of the feelings; isolation and reward. She began to choose different ways to reward herself after a tough day or week. (And yes, bubble baths did help in this instance!)


Plus these ideas can also help:

  • eat enough protein throughout the day. Like a lot. More than you are doing, and then add some.

  • hydrate, hydrate, hydrate


And if it doesn't offer an immediate solution to you, then don't worry. Continue building the awareness. Because what we are aware of we can change; be patient with yourself, and kind.


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