Why do I eat when I'm stressed? Everyone is different, so your reasons might be different than mine. But maybe some of the things I do to relieve stress can help you, too.
Why Do I Eat When I'm Stressed?
I eat because food brings me comfort. It always has. At least my mind thinks food as comfort and tries to get me to soothe my feelings with it. Before I got sick, here's what I did:
- Feeling sad? I reach for carbs.
- Feeling mad? Where's the wine?
- Feeling excited? Let's have a fabulous hors d'ouvre and some champagne!
- Feeling sick? Gimme some soup. Soup will make me feel better.
Can you relate to the way I used to deal with stress? And I admit, I sometimes still do this, but I have a much larger bag of tricks now. I share some of my techniques here.
What Do You Do?
Are you a stress eater? Or have you found some healthier ways to relieve stress? I'm happy to say I have found better ways to deal with stress.
Stress can really zap your body and cause havoc, can't it? In the past, there have been times when I have been under constant stress—so much that it began to feel normal.
But my body knew it wasn't good for me. It tried to give me a wake-up call with lots of miserable symptoms before it finally said, "Okay, Lois! That's enough. It's time to take a break!" And I had a heart attack. That was 2007. It took me a couple of years to get back on track.
Symptoms of Stress
Some of my symptoms of too much stress were:
- Not sleeping well
- Pain in my joints
- Overall tiredness
- Clenched jaw
- Not being able to think clearly
- Not being able to accomplish simple tasks
- Gaining weight
- Pain in my arm
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Being irritable
Other people experience a variety of symptoms, including low energy; headaches; upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, and/or nausea; aches, pains, and tense muscles; chest pain and rapid heartbeat; panic attacks; insomnia; frequent colds and infections; and loss of sexual desire and/or ability.
Holy cow. You don't want to go there, right?
Food for Healthy Living
I have learned that when I am under a lot of stress, instead of reaching for good, wholesome, whole foods, I tend to make bad food choices...and then I suffer. Thankfully, I have been following my "Food for Healthy Living" for a few years now. I am now healthy, happy and energetic. And eating better foods has helped me get there.
Of course, I have consciously reduced my stress and focused on being happy, too. I healed my gut, reduced my inflammation, and lost 40 pounds.
Reducing Stress is Possible
Here are some of the things that I do to reduce stress:
- Eat whole foods in balanced proportions
- Avoid junk food
- Eat only when I'm hungry
- Breathe deeply
- Straighten my shoulders when I walk
- Take a walk through the neighborhood or hike in nature
- Ride a bike
- Take a bath
- Do yoga
- Read a book
- Sit and do nothing
- Eat whole foods
- Cook something
- Bake something
- Color a picture
- Look at pictures of kids, dogs and cats on the Internet
- Talk to a friend
- Write what I am grateful for
- Pray for my family
- Pray for my tormentors and the people who irritate me
- Do something nice for someone
- Volunteer at the food bank
- Clean my house
- Write something positive
- Make a "to do" list and cross stuff off (even the little stuff)
- Go to the chiropractor for an adjustment (some would say, get a massage, but I don't like them!)
- Cuddle with my husband
- Play with my grandkids
- Talk to one or more of my daughters
- FaceTime with loved ones
- Sit by a lake, river or ocean
- Take a vacation
- Wander around an antique or craft store
- Avoid political discussions
What do you do to reduce stress?
I Gave Up Dieting
I have never been fond of dieting or following a strictly prescribed diet. I’m here to tell you it ain’t just the diet that is making you hold onto all those extra pounds. At least, it wasn’t for me. I couldn’t keep weight off for love nor money. When I stopped eating the foods that caused my food sensitivities and seasonal allergies, I lost more than 40 pounds without dieting. The weight just slipped off and stayed off.
I tell you my story, explain exactly how to test yourself for food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances, and give you the tools to do it in my new book, It Ain’t Just the Diet™ Food Journal | A Daily Guide to Finding & Managing Your Food Allergies, soon to be published. For updates and to get your own copy, subscribe to our email announcement list.
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Disclaimer: The author is not a health professional or nutritionist. She is offering her research and personal reflections about her health journey and is not providing any type of medical or nutritional advice. This post is for informational purposes only. It is offered as a tool for people to discover their own suspected food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities. Readers are highly encouraged to read, write, and reflect on the ideas presented. Consult your healthcare professional before initiating any dietary or exercise program.
This post was originally posted on Recipe Idea Shop May 17, 2016 and updated January 20, 2021.
Last Updated on May 23, 2022 by Adriana