When it comes to healthy eating, most of us know what is and isn't healthy for our bodies. Sure, we've been a bit confused by what the media and our government tells us, but overall I think we can all confidently say we know that consuming fresh fruits and vegetables is going to be a healthier choice than eating a McDonald's hamburger and fries. Right
But, what do we do when we're dealing with stress in our lives? What if when we're stressed we instantly head to McDonald's to eat the burger and fries we know aren't healthy for us? Or what if we consume large quantities of cakes, candies, or ice cream when we're overcome with stress
The best thing to do when it comes to stress eating is to acknowledge what is going on. If you're the kind of person who eats unhealthy food when life gets too stressful, then acknowledge that fact. If you don't like that you rely on unhealthy foods during stressful times, then try to come up with a plan of what you'll do the next time you find yourself driving up to the fast food window, or digging a spoon deep down into the gallon of ice cream you have in the freezer.
What would you rather do than eat the foods you know are unhealthy For each of us, the answer is probably going to be different. Maybe you'd rather call a friend and find yourself distracted on the phone instead of in a bucket of food. Or, maybe you'd feel great after going for a jog and sweating away some of the stress that had you wanting to binge on chocolate? What if you danced around with your favorite music playing really loud; would that help you relieve some of the stress? How about writing, drawing, or painting your frustrations away? There are countless ways of handling stress, but the most important thing is to have a plan in place in case you ever need some help.
Create a plan for the next time you find yourself desiring food to deal with the stress in your life. Have a list of things you'd rather do than consume unhealthy foods. Tell yourself that you're going to do at least one of the stress-relieving techniques you have planned on your list before you give in to eating a food to help you deal with life's challenges. And, if you still feel stressed after doing something on your list, then you'll need to think about what you want to do next. Will you try the next thing on your list or will you go for the food? Know ahead of time what you're going to do, so you'll be making conscious decisions rather than unconscious ones that lead to unhappiness.
All-in-all, if consuming the unhealthy food is giving you stress-relief then maybe it isn't completely a bad choice to eat it. Sure, overall it's going to affect your body's health. But, maybe at times when you are neglecting your body's health, you are giving your mind and emotions a bit of a reprieve from the stress you are experiencing. If eating a tub of ice cream helps you make it through the day or gives you a sense of peace, then eat it and don't feel guilty about it. The guilt is going to detract from the stress relief you've just gained.
Life is all about balance. A healthy lifestyle is about so much more than the foods we put into our mouths. Getting to the root of the stress is what's most important. Let's talk more about that tomorrow. ;-)