You know there’s something not quite right with how you’re eating. Which does it sound more like?
- I can’t stop eating or craving certain foods. I can’t stick to my diet.
- I’m uninterested in food, or I don’t feel hungry.
Either way, know that you are not alone, and you CAN change this!
So you feel as though you just can’t stop eating.
You crave certain foods, especially ones you know aren’t good for you. They’re high in sugar, high in fat, high in calories. Yet the more you try to cut these out of your diet, the more you seem to crave them.
I remember having one part of my brain telling me I wasn’t hungry, and another part directing my body to binge eat everything in the pantry. Food alone wasn’t my problem: it was compounded by a work life and home life thick with stress and discontent, and a feeling of no-way-out.
What I want to share with you is this: eating well has little to do with willpower, and there is NOTHING wrong with you! Here’s some of the why:
Studies have shown that:
- “People tend to seek high-calorie, high-fat foods during periods of stress, though when people are stressed, their bodies store more fat than when they are relaxed”2
- “Hyper-palatable” foods counteract stress and make us feel better (at least in the short-term)3
- Attempting to monitor and/or restrict caloric intake actually INCREASES the stress response4, which means that dieting only exacerbates the problem.
Reducing stress is important, and it’s likely just one aspect of your journey; others include your eating rhythm, the pleasure you allow yourself to receive from food, your eating speed, and the macro-nutrient balance appropriate for YOUR system. These are examples of what I help clients assess and work on.
If what you’ve done before–sometimes for years and years–isn’t working, then isn’t it time to invest your energy in a different direction?
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
Now I’m not saying you’re insane, but if you have better things to do with your time and energy than weigh yourself, measure your food, and fight your body, maybe it’s time to get off this roller coaster.
- 38% of adults have overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods in the past month because of stress.
- Half of these adults (49%) report engaging in these behaviors weekly or more.
- 33% of adults who report overeating or eating unhealthy foods because of stress say they do so because it helps distract them from stress.
- After having overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods, half of adults (49%) report feeling disappointed in themselves, 46% report feeling bad about their bodies and more than one-third (36%) say they feel sluggish or lazy.
If you’re a woman, you’re also more likely than a man to report unhealthy eating behaviors as a result of stress6.
Stress may also be why over 80% of dieters gain the weight back (plus some) within a couple years, and why each subsequent “diet attempt” gets more challenging.5
So you’re uninterested in food or don’t seem to get hungry.
Quite frankly, if there’s a pill you could take to not have to worry about shopping, cooking, preparing food and eating, you’d take it. You don’t want to be bothered by the whole “eating” thing.
Did you know that stress can literally shut down your appetite and cause you to lose interest and enjoyment in your food6?
I personally know what it’s like to be overwhelmed with work and home obligations–to not have any time for self-care.
I also know that self-nourishment can be challenging, especially if you don’t feel you truly deserve it.
If you’re not nourishing your mind-body system with macro-nutrient balanced, pleasurable foods in a steady rhythm throughout the day, you are negatively impacting your overall health and well-being. You are unlikely to lose weight (and instead may gain it!). If you take care of others, it’s VITAL that you find ways to nourish and care for yourself.
If you’ve experienced any negative consequences of skipping meals, including:
- Poor mental performance and concentration, difficulty making decisions
- Feeling fatigued and tired, decreased immune response
- Muscle weakness or loss of muscle
- Headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath
- Anxiety and depression, then get on the path to healthy AND pleasurable eating . . . .
- 30% of adults reported skipping a meal in the past month due to stress.
- 67% say it was because they did not have an appetite.
- Instutute for the Psychology of Eating, Marc David & Emily Rosen.
- Björntorp, P. (2001). Do stress reactions cause abdominal obesity and comorbidities? The International Association for the Study of Obesity, Obesity Reviews, 2 (2), 73–86.
- Why Stress Causes People to Overeat; Harvard Mental Health Letter, Harvard Medical School, published February 2012.
- Low Calorie Dieting Increases Cortisol by A. Janet Tomiyama, Ph.D. et al. in PubMed Central® (PMC), at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM).
- Stress and Eating Behaviors by Yvonne H. C. Yau1 and Marc N. Potenza in PubMed Central® (PMC), at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM).
- Stress and Eating, American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” Reports, 2013 (also similar stats in 2015).