By Debra K. Waranch, LCSW-C
Does this ever happen to you? You’re running late, you feel rushed, frustrated, and generally unprepared for your day. The last thing on your mind is what you are going to eat that day. But when the time comes and you’re famished, you reach for the easiest thing, and it’s usually not the healthiest option.
Today’s stress often prompts poor choices and impulsive eating, all of which makes us less equipped for coping. Although fast food and sugar are convenient, they actually may be causing more stress to your body. A long term diet without proper nutrients drains our reserves of important minerals and vitamins. These nutrients aid us in stressful situations.
Food is not the only blame for high stress levels, nor is it the complete answer, but it is part of the puzzle. It is also the number one item most of us reach for– in fact it is often our drug of choice. Food is a drug: a drug is a substance that causes physiological changes to our bodies and food has that effect. For example: eat a piece of chocolate and you can get a high from it- you feel happy, giddy, energized and prior to eating it , just by thinking about it, smelling it, or seeing it, your body ignites, gets excited- the anticipation is part of the process. Food is powerful and we cannot avoid it, or take it out of our life. We have to learn to live with it in a harmonious way. We need to find our balance.
Here are some helpful techniques or skills that might work for you:
- list your top 5 stressors in your life; by recognizing them this will help you to raise your awareness and be able to overcome them
- list your 5 top triggers that cause you to reach for unhealthy food choices and notice that they usually will match your stressors; this raised awareness will enable you to have more control over your eating
- work on mindful eating: being in the experience, feeling, smelling the experience of eating
- prepare your food and it will often connect you to the experience of eating in a meaningful way
- plan peaceful eating, by eliminating TV, phones, and computers
- create a positive mantra: I deserve healthy food, I am celebrating myself with power foods
We know that food is fuel for our body, and when stressed, we need to focus on having our fuel present. Just like a car, we cannot go without it. Breaking the cycle means eliminating the worst offenders of our diet and replacing them with healthier foods. Remember it is all a balance – what works for you, may not work for someone else. Find out which foods make you feel better, and which foods trigger unhealthy feelings. Your ultimate goal is to feel energized and focused, and thus enable you to feel balanced.
By Debra K. Waranch, LCSW-C, JCS Therapy Services
To learn more about how JCS can help you solve life’s puzzles please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.