Who knew that when I began this series it would take nearly five months to complete? Life certainly has a way of getting in the way sometimes. Well, here we are at the conclusion of the Stress Eater Series (finally) and I truly hope you’ve gleaned some useful information to apply to your life.
What exactly is a Stress Eater?
A person who consumes excess food (usually junk food) during periods of extreme stress (whether it be in the form of physical, mental, or emotional) as a means to bring comfort or alleviate the feelings of stress.
Do certain foods actually reduce stress and stress-induced cravings?
Yes, there are many foods which help reduce stress. For the most part, these are whole, fresh foods. Green leafy vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and certain meats and dairy products are good selections to make instead of junk foods like cookies, cakes, and ice cream.
Also, foods containing tryptophan, B-vitamins, Magnesium, and Selenium all aid the human body in recovering from and managing periods of high stress.
And remember to select produce from a wide range of colors. Variety is key.
Why shouldn’t I give in to my body’s sugar cravings when I’m feeling stressed?
The simplest answer is this: That extra sugar being consumed when you’re under stress is a piece of the puzzle to weight gain and maintenance. When the human body is under stress it produces a hormone called cortisol which has been linked to unhealthy weight gain in the abdomen. According to Posner and Hlivka, “Not only will less sugar help you lose weight, but it will also break the cycle of stress eating and craving more sugar” (82). Excess sugar during times of stress has a negative impact on the body’s metabolism as well.
Why shouldn’t I eat a low-fat or fat-free diet when I feel like I’m fat and need to lose weight?
Because the human body needs a certain amount of fats to do certain things and to complete processes which require essential fatty acids (EFAs). By the by, it is much better to get your EFAs through food sources rather than buying a supplement.
What is the difference between physical and emotional hunger?
Physical hunger is created through chemical processes and communication between the digestive system and the brain. It is how the body knows when it needs more raw materials to keep all systems running smoothly. Conversely, emotional hunger is created by cravings instigated by high stress levels. It is habit-forming and reactionary, not from actual hunger.
How can I reduce my cravings for junk food and hunger in general?
Drink more water. In fact, try drinking a glass of water prior to meals and you may be surprised to find you eat a more sensible portion of food.
Eat more consciously. Focus on what you are eating when you are eating it, so that you won’t be mindlessly consuming. This will help prevent overeating.
Eat less man-made sugars. Consuming less sugar will help with weight-loss. This will also, in the words of Posner and Hlivka, “break the cycles of stress eating and craving more sugar” (182).
Find other, possibly more active, ways to handle and process your stress. If your first reaction to a stressor is to visit the refrigerator, pause and evaluate why you are reaching for food. Ask yourself: Am I genuinely hungry in this moment?
Be more active. Drink more water. Eat more nutrient-dense foods that help alleviate stress instead of sugar laden foods. Be mindful of why you are eating. Find activities to help you manage your stress (i.e. yoga, pilates, swimming, running, bicycling, deep breathing exercises, stroll through a park, and many more).
An important thing to remember, you didn’t get to where you are in a single day so just try to take things a day at a time. Once you break the cycle of bad habits, it will become easier to make better food choices. We only get our one body, so instead of filling up on nutrient deprived foods load up on the good stuff that is packed full of vitamins, minerals, and the macronutrients which the body truly needs for fuel. You can take control of your health!
This concludes the Stress Eater Series, but there will be future blogs which relate to topics brought up throughout this series. Have a fabulous week! And I wish you all the best with your future endeavors!
Important Note about this blog’s author:
While I do, indeed, have my Associate Degree in Health & Wellness since May 2013, I am not a doctor, nor am I aware of your medical issues. The health, nutrition, and wellness statements made in this blog should be taken in conjunction with advice from your healthcare professional. This is especially important if you are under constant supervision by a physician for a chronic health condition.
So again, if you have any food sensitivities or allergies, please avoid those foods which you already know to cause you issues. There should be plenty of options to select from each category that Posner and Hlivka cited in their book, which I have taken verbatim from the pages of Stress Eater Diet.
Here’s a Recommended Reading List:
~ Take Control of Your Health by Dr. Joseph Mercola
~ The Maker’s Diet by Jordan S. Rubin
~ The Completely Revised and Updated Hypoglycemia Healthcare Handbook by Jeraldine Saunders and Dr. Harvey M. Ross
~ Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies by Frances Sizer and Ellie Whitney (We used this book in our Nutrition class at school.)
~ Books on the fundamentals of cellular biology, human biology and physiology, and human anatomy are all good places to start learning the hows and whys of body processes. The book we used in Intro to Cell Biology was surprisingly easy to read and understand for a textbook. If you can find a used book on any or all three of these topics that is no more than 3-5 years old, they would hold more up-to-date information than older ones.
~ Scientists are discovering new things about the workings of the human body every year, but it takes time for doctors and healthcare professionals to catch up. Subscribe to a scientific health journal if you want to keep abreast of developments in the health field.
~ Another book, which I picked up at a used book sale, is The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health by Robert Young, Ph.D. and Shelley Redford Young. (I haven’t read it yet, but it seemed like a promising title at least.)