We all have a comfort food, something we return to time and time again, a little pick-me-up when we’ve had a rough day. Sometimes our rough days don’t just last a day, they last weeks, months, even years.
For me I love wine and Chinese food. Wine is my instant pick me up. I don’t drink a lot but when I do I want to feel it, I want to escape. Otherwise, the calories aren’t worth it for me. I know this is part of my personality. I’ve always been an all or nothing type of person which makes it difficult to maintain a healthy balanced diet. I’ve learnt to use that to my advantage to identify when I’m falling into bad habits. If I drink for a few days in a row I feel crappy, my skin feels terrible and I have no energy the following day.
The good thing about generally following a healthy diet, my body gets confused when I don’t eat well for a while and reminds me in its own way that I’m falling off the wagon. However, I’ve noticed that when I’m really stressed my mind becomes good at muting my body’s warnings. Stress tires me so I no longer recognise that dip in my mood. Stress ruins my skin, I get more break outs, I get itchy and rashes appear. Stress tells my mind that I need those Cantonese style prawns and salt and pepper chicken wings because I’m having a hard time.
It really is a skill to say NO! To be firm with yourself when you just want to wrap yourself up in a blanket and hide from the world. When you’re pushing yourself mentally it’s so all consuming sometimes that you bench your physical wellbeing. We all do from time to time. The hard part is and always will be pulling yourself out of that rut and facing up to your habits. It’s acknowledging that you ate a whole box of Lindt chocolates last night for no good reason other than you wanted it. It’s having the courage to assess your previous week and pick out all those times you ate excessively. It’s ugly, it’s unpleasant, it’s a side to you you’d rather not acknowledge.
Part of beating stress eating is letting yourself do it. If you keep denying that you’re doing it, you’ll never come to a point where you decide to stop. If you think you might be doing it, let yourself have those naughty things for a while longer then pick a date to improve. It seems foreign when we’re young to think about eating for our health rather than our figure but it’s so important.
Some people react differently to stress which may beg the question are we just making excuses? After all some people handle stress by eating very little. However, there is some science behind it. Cortisol, the stress hormone is produced in the adrenal glands as a defence mechanism. Our body produces more cortisol to get us out of tense situations. When the adrenal glands are overworked, the body prepares for disaster, by storing fat and calories. So we crave foods, we lose precious energy, and we gain weight.
It’s believed to be a lingering effect from the simpler times when we hunted out in the wild and needed all that extra energy. Our increasingly sedentary lives but stressful workloads means our body is trying to help us but hasn’t adapted to our change in lifestyle. As someone who tries to listen to their body it can seem counter intuitive to ignore your stomach growling at you.
I have my own tricks to ease hunger pangs. I love fruity tea, it has few calories and some days I drink it one cup after another. I think because it’s warm and tastes like fruit I think I’m actually having something substantial. Also we can all do with drinking more water! I also find that If I force myself to only snack on one fruit, after a few days I get bored of eating the same thing so naturally stop snacking unnecessarily. If I was genuinely hungry I’d eat it.
Your body fights for you, it heals itself and it repairs the damage you’ve caused. If you give your body the fuel it needs, it will have you feeling better in no time.