BeingGreen: Responsible Stress Eating.

February 21, 2009

Instead of another article on Saving Teh Earfs™, I thought I’d deviate a bit this time and talk about something that’s a little closer to home: stress/emotional eating.

This is a serious problem for some people (me included).  We stress out (physically or emotionally), and the first thing we turn to is food.  Most of the time, this is some kind of junk food, like cookies or a box of chips.  Not only is this not good for our immediate health, but it can lead to weight gain, which for most of us only serves to make us more emo.  At this point, eating more chips or cookies to soothe ourselves starts to look like a really dumb idea – and we’d be right.

The obvious solution to this would be to avoid stress eating altogether.  And sure, that’ll work, but it’s just not as satisfying.  Stress eating is a valid coping mechanism; we eat and it makes us feel better.

Since embarking on a controlled-carbohydrate diet, I’ve had to make some changes to my stress-eating routine.  During that time, I’ve developed a few methods to keep the behavior from becoming dangerous:

  • Eat healthy foods.  It doesn’t matter what kind of healthy foods these are; tailor it to your dietary needs.  For me, this could be a cheeseburger (no bun, plenty of veggies) or some frozen fruit with half-and-half and a little bit of honey.  Or just raw cabbage, if it’s available.  If you eat low-fat and/or vegetarian, you might enjoy tucking into a large bowl of salad or a stirfry.  At the very least, never stress-eat empty calories.
  • Emphasize quality over quantity.  Instead of going through the whole chip bag, grab a few chips (this works best with corn), put some cheese on them, and heat them in the microwave.  Rather than a huge piece of mediocre cake, get/make one exactly the way you like it and eat less.  And don’t eat mindlessly – take the time to enjoy it.
  • Share the food.  I find that I tend to eat less of something if I know there are other people around who want some of it.
  • Don’t make stress eating a habit – and don’t make it the first thing you turn to.  Before you hit the food, go through a few relaxation techniques.  Breathe deeply and stretch, or just sing a song you enjoy – again, whatever works for you.  Save food for when you really need a pick-me-up.

Done properly, stress eating can be quite beneficial without having a negative effect on your body or your wallet.  Responsibility is the key.


One comment

  1. Great blog and hope to have time soon to come back and read some more! xx

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