Food & Stress

If the statistical data that shows stress is the root of 85% of what doctors see patients for then the other 15% is food related. So how do these two connect?When we’re sad, depressed, and lonely or dejected, we comfort ourselves with food.When we feel proud, acknowledged or excited about an accomplishment, we celebrate by eating.

So happy or sad, in this country our response is to eat something, anything, really. Unfortunately, I don’t know many people who comfort themselves with broccoli. I know of no one who celebrates with a healthy portion of streamed spinach over whole brown rice.

The question when it comes to “stress management through food” isn’t how do we eliminate stress so we can always eat a healthy diet. It’s how do shift our relationship to food so it doesn’t become another source of stress? Moreover, how do we use food to support our health & maintain good nutrition even when we are stressed?

The only way to truly change how we do something is through slow, consistent and manageable changes in our behavior. We are creatures of habit, even the ones we know will hurt us.

The first thing to learn to do is observe yourself. Notice when you’re stressed and what the first thoughts that rush into your mind regarding food are. Notice the choices you make in your mind before you make in your life. When you notice your “habits” or tendencies you have the option to change them. It doesn’t mean you will, it means you can.

The next thing to do is have an option that you know you can count on. Carry a protein bar with chocolate on it if chocolate is your thing. Go to a deli and get a sandwich on whole grain bread, if carbs is your comfort and joy. But have a plan so that you’re not inhaling a container of fried pork with noodles (plus 10 tsps of oil, MSG in an unknown amount and enough sodium to make you feel bloated to the size of Sumo wrestler).

When we act impulsively, we often act foolishly. At the very least we undermine our own goals, plans and desires for health and wellness. The program I offer is all about goal setting, manageable changes and planning ahead. When we know how to do something we usually do it. It’s the fear of the unknown that stops people. Don’t let it stop you.