Life hands us challenge after challenge. Work and personal life balance can be increasing hard to manage, especially if things in either area are not going smoothly. Whatever the issue may be many turn to food for release and comfort. Stress eating allows us to avoid pain and suffering by seeking relief in comfort foods. Stress eating can allow us to disconnect and help change how we are feeling in that moment. The feeling of instant gratification that food can give us.
When we are stressed we often feel out of control. Food is something that we can control but normal healthy habits seem to fly out the window in times of crisis. As a personal trainer I see this all the time usually when progress in the gym has slowed or my client doesn’t seem to have the normal drive to workout. When I see these things happening in the gym it’s almost always a sign of stress at work or at home. My advice is to harness the stress and focus on working out when times get tough instead of running to the kitchen for the cookies or chips. Stop before you bite and think why am I doing this? Do I need this or do I want it? The point is that stress eating is going to take a lot longer to burn off the empty calories you have consumed than it even takes to make it or sit down to eat it. It’s ok to want an occasional treat but it should be for a celebration or reaching a goal, not because the work emails are piling high and your boss is riding you on a large project. Sweat out the stress! It could help you consume fewer calories later on when you don’t want to blow the work you put into the gym. When stress becomes too much during the work day, give yourself a break and go for a walk even if it just around the inside of your building for 15 minutes. It can do you a lot of good. It is important to realize that stress eating is a temporary quick fix that in the long run can cause permanent health issues.
Another piece of advice, rate your hunger on a scale from starving to still full from the last meal, with levels in between. If you’re starving or close to it allow yourself to eat but make sure you are paying attention to what you put in your mouth, do not just mindlessly chow down. If your not hungry but stressed or bored that is the time to consider what you need to do to get over it. We are all smart people, give yourself the benefit of the doubt to figure out why you are turning to food. If you are lonely call a friend and setup a catch up date, if you are overwhelmed take a yoga class or mediate. If your kids are on your last nerve, get the headphones out and go for a walk. We can all benefit from being more mindful and present in our lives.