Stress & Emotional Eating
Stress is becoming such a normalised part of our busy lives that is is often worn as a badge of honour. It’s such a large problem around the world that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is calling stress a global epidemic. It begs these questions, what exactly is stress? and what does it do to our bodies that is so bad for us?
Lynn Riedel, Ultra Lite Practitioner, Naturopath and Stress Management professional, provided us with an overview of what stress is and what stress does to our bodies.
What is Stress
Stress is the body’s response to a situation, not the situation itself. The stress response can be triggered by many different things, including:
- Running late,
- An impending deadline,
- Being stuck in traffic,
- Relationship issues,
- Work conflict,
- And other triggers depending on you.
Another thing to consider is some of the time, what is triggering your stress response isn’t alway’s something that is happening in reality right now, Stress responses can be triggered by something that you’re imagining, a thought, or even a memory of an event of something which has not occurred.
The most significant thing to understand when it comes to stress is that your body can not tell the difference between a stress trigger which is happening in the present: like being stuck in traffic. Or, a stress trigger that happened in the past: like thinking about when you were running late for an appointment and stuck in traffic last week. Or, something that is yet to happen in the future: like thinking about how you’re going to handle walking in to the appointment late after sitting in traffic for over 20mins and explaining that it was because you slept in and didn’t think there would be traffic as well.
Can you think of some situations which cause you to feel stressed? What are your common triggers for stress in your day-to-day life? What about times when thinking back to the past has caused you stress, or thinking about the future and how that has caused you to feel stress?
Stressful situations can cause different responses within different people. Some people can stay calm under pressure, while others can become emotional, agitated, disorientated and frustrated, carrying all that emotion with them from that trigger.
This is why working on methods for us to respond well to those stress triggers in whatever form they arise, will help to overall manage your day-to-day stress, your stress response and reduce your overall stress levels.
Emotional Eating and Stress go hand in hand
When people begin their weight loss journey with Ultra Lite, it’s a great time to reflect on their relationship with food and what may be some causes of weight gain in the first place.
When you write “Stressed” backwards, it spells “Desserts”, which is ironic given many people when they experience stress turn to dessert type foods to cope with stressors. This is very common and is a main cause of weight gain. Lynn provides a number of examples of clients she has seen over 20 years as an Ultra Lite Practitioner, showing that when people experience stress and other emotional triggers, they reach for chocolate, lollies or other ‘comfort’ foods to cope, and sometimes without even realising that’s what they’re doing.
Unless you begin to understand the emotional triggers that cause you to eat for comfort, then you will find these old habits will creep back into your life after completing your weight loss journey. This is why reflecting on your emotional triggers, including stress and developing methods other than emotional eating and overeating to cope while on the Ultra Lite program, is so important to your ongoing success.
Mindfulness: What is it good for?
One of the most important tools to help manage stress is to learn to be present. This is what the practice of mindfulness teaches us in our day-to-day lives.
People who practice mindfulness are on average: Less stressed, happier, more present and have better relationships with the people around them.
Wouldn’t you like to enjoy those benefits too?
When many people think of mindfulness, they think of meditation and yoga. However, Lynn has some practical suggestions and short methods of mindfulness which are a lot more achievable, especially if this is your first time with trying mindfulness (or if you’ve tried before and felt it wasn’t for you. Yes we see you.)
So, we’ve invited Lynn to provide us with some of her easy to follow steps to manage stress.
Step’s to manage stress
Be Present and Tame your Mind
To understand how to work on being present, we need to first have a better understanding of how our minds work.
When we begin to feel stressed, this is usually followed by a physical response. This can be felt in different areas of the body; some people feel this in their heart, head, or shoulders. Then, the mind will start to race and start to imagine different scenarios and outcomes.
Once you recognise this happening in yourself, its a matter of turning your mind to the now. The best way to do this is to focus on the one thing that is always happening right now, which is your breathing.
Watch the following clip with Lynn Riedel about the stages of recognising the feeling in your body and taming the mind, to help you come back to the present.
Often when we’re eating, we’re doing other things with a distracted mind. Many people eat while they’re doing other things like; reading, watching TV, thinking about what they’re doing next, or on their phone.
The way to eat mindfully is to sit down to eat and be present in that moment.
Lynn provides us with an easy to follow guide in the below clip on how to eat mindfully.
Those steps again for eating mindfully
- Sit down to eat with no distractions
- Observe the food on your plate and admire the colours and smells
- After each mouthful, stop and concentrate on the taste, smells and texture of your food.
- Eat in silence, for at least the first three mouthfuls.
- Really taste your food, and enjoy your food while you’re eating it.
3 Mindfulness Principles
These 3 mindfulness principles focus on changing your stress response and change our reaction to what’s happening around us. This technique is very different from breathing techniques you may have tried in the past, or suggestions of Yoga you may have received.
Non-resistance is a principle about learning the practice of non-resistance when something happens in your life. Lynn gives us a great understanding of Non-resistance and how to let go of resistance to reduce stress, with a simple practice of saying “I don’t mind what happens.”
Non-Attachment is a principal that focuses on letting go of how we think things should be and when explaining the principle of non-attachment, Lynn provides some great idea’s to break this habit and become more at peace with our attachment to how things should (and shouldn’t) be.
We’re all full of judgment. But once we become more aware of the judgment we have, not only for the people around us, but for the judgment of we have for ourselves, we can start to see how harmful this judgment we hold can be not only on ourselves but on the relationships we have with others. Lynn has a beautiful way of explaining non-judgment and how to become more aware of our judgment and how to move into a space of non-judgment.
Throughout each day, Lynn practices a method called a peaceful pause, where she stops and takes 10 seconds to pause and breathe. When Lynn is doing this, she sends a text message to her clients to give them an opportunity to participate in a peaceful pause also.
This practice up to 9 times a day, allows you to stop and take 10 seconds to be present in the now, reducing stress and increasing peacefulness and happiness.
If you would like to join Lynn’s text message group and participate in her peaceful pauses each day, please email us at [email protected] and we will pass on your details to Lynn.
Further information about Stress, mindfulness, Energy Forces, and You
For those who are interested, we have some additional content from our chat with Lynn Riedel about energy forces and how they apply to you, your stress and mindfulness. This is below for you to watch if you’re interested, as it is very relevant to understanding and managing stress.