“Emotional eating” is triggered by stress, causing you to consume larger portions, or more unhealthy foods than you normally would.
Food is the fuel that keeps the body running. Food is also a social thing; it should be fun, delicious and joyful! Finding the balance between eating what you need and eating what you want is essential for keeping health (and blood sugar) under control.
Eating because of emotion is a dangerously unhealthy coping mechanism.
Think about it – you eat a candy bar because you’re stressed. You feel better for a minute, then start to feel guilty about eating something you shouldn’t have. Those feelings of guilt make you sad and stressed, so you eat something else.
Those emotions, thoughts and behaviors can continue to spiral, having a potentially catastrophic effect on your health.
So, when those stress-cravings come calling, what can we do to combat them?
Start by taking a closer look at the opinions and feelings you attach to certain foods. For example, do you think of a doughnut as an evil enemy sent to tempt and destroy you? Do you picture good health when you see an apple?
Resist labeling foods as good or bad. This gives food too much power and influence over your thoughts. It is true that some foods are better for your body (and blood sugar) than others, but no single food determines your overall health or well-being.
Don’t let yourself get hungry. Eating regularly reduces the risk of cravings, because your tummy stays full, and your body has the fuel it needs to function.
Fill your fridge and pantry with nutritious, tasty foods. If you’ve identified some of the foods you crave on a regular basis, do not buy those foods at the store. If they aren’t easily accessible, you are less likely to give in to a craving. If you really want ice cream, but don’t have any in the freezer, it’s easier to survive without it.
Develop a realistic routine for yourself – choose a time to wake up every day, make your bed, leave for work with time to spare, and have a set time to go to sleep at night. This provides a sense of predictability and can help reduce stress levels.
For diabetics in particular, sticking to a daily routine is crucial. Testing your blood sugar, as well as, taking your medications on schedule are musts. Be sure to check your blood sugar regularly. Blood sugar that is too high (or too low), or blood sugar that is constantly spiking and falling will have a definite impact on how you feel.
Don’t forget to take some time for yourself. Ladies, go get that manicure or massage. If pedicures aren’t your style fellas, hit the golf course or go for a drive and turn up the radio.
Put down the phone (and tablet, and laptop.) Try to be present and focused by eliminating constant stimulation from electronics. Do not use any electronic devices (TV included) for 15-20 minutes before bed; the light from the screen interferes with sleep message in the brain and can keep you awake.
Everyone knows nothing feels as good as a great night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults between the ages of 25-65.
Physical activity also combats stress. Exercise doesn’t always mean spending 2 hours in the gym every day. Physical activity can be enjoyed as other activities, as well. For example, take a walk with your family after dinner, or play a game of hide-and-seek with your kids or grandchildren.
Take a few moments every day to simply rest and breathe. By practicing stress-reduction techniques, we can lower the toll on our minds and bodies. Meditation and prayer are two more ways to calm your spirit and relax. Or give yoga a try to combine exercise and meditation in one. Keep at it until you find relaxation techniques that work for you!
We all need food to survive, it is fuel for both body and soul. It should not be something to fret over, but something in which to find joy as we journey through life. By investing time and thought into balancing your relationship with food, you are sure to both see and feel the benefits!