Does this sound familiar? I’m feeling stressed, so I’ve opened the fridge door. Or perhaps it’s anxiety. And maybe it’s the pantry?
When we are feeling stressed or anxious we often reach for food as a way to comfort ourselves. Just popping in a few tasty morsels to quell the anxiety can’t be so bad, can it?
It may be chips (salty and crunchy) for one person, while another is drawn to chocolate (sweet and creamy). Or sometimes it just seems we can’t eat enough, so we keep eating whatever is around. Yikes!!!
The drawback is, what seemed soothing and stress relieving at the time often makes us feel worse later. We can end up feeling bloated.
And what is even worse, we can end up feeling guilty and/or ashamed.
Guess what happens next? We start to feel anxious or stressed about feeling bloated and guilty. And we find ourselves standing in front of the fridge or the pantry again. Looking for the same sense of relief as we tuck into something that makes us feel better.
Sometimes this cycle appears over weeks, sometimes we can find ourselves living several rounds in one evening! And yes, unless we get a handle on this we are going to continue to suffer.
What can we do?
Aha! That’s where I can come to the rescue. When I was President of the Anxiety Disorders Assocation of Ontario (a charity based in Canada) I became an expert on anxiety and nutrition.
Today, I’m sharing some of what I learned to help you get out of the anxiety/fridge cycle.
If you find yourself standing in front of the fridge when stressed, here are a few things to think about:
Drink Before You Eat
- First thing – go get a glass of water. Sometimes we are thirsty and we don’t realize it! Make sure you get your six to eight glasses a day. This helps to fill you up and helps the digestive system stay healthy. (It’s also good for your skin.) So, drink before you eat.
However, don’t drink alcohol or caffeine when stressed.
- Although maybe giving you a temporary soothing sensation, they will actually make your feelings worse or prolong your anxiety and its side effects.
- Stop all activity for a few moments and take several long slow deep breaths. You will probably notice that your breathing became quite shallow, and this will help you get back to normal breathing.
And talking about breathing…Snuff out that ciggie
- Do not smoke – all the carcinogeous stuff in ciggies increases anxiety…it’s the deep breathing that relaxes you. Just pretend you have a cigarette in your hand, and breathe!
- Now, you have had a glass of water and you are deep breathing, check in with yourself – are you hungry? If the answer is yes…
- Remember to keep your blood sugar levels stable by eating three nutritious meals and a couple of healthy snacks daily rather than three large meals, or the ever popular “skip a meal because you don’t want the calories.” That will bite you back!
- Do your best to include some omega-3 fatty acid rich foods in your diet. These help you keep your cool and include flaxseeds and walnuts, salmon and deep sea fish.
- Eating food high in magnesium is proven to help relax muscles and is good for your brain too. Magnesium is found in most foods, especially dairy products, fish, meat and seafood. Also include in your diet apples, bananas, brown rice and tofu.
- And magnesium is found in chocolate! Mwah!!!
Oh well, we are not looking to be perfect, just to be healthy.
If anxiety is causing you misery and your eating feels like it is out of control, try helping yourself by improving your diet and drinking more water. If you need more help, Nutrition 101 will take you step-by-step to Healthy Eating, without the fads and fears.
- And my final tip…walk away from the fridge and the pantry, and take a brisk walk outdoors. You will breathe deeply, get some exercise and begin to clear your thoughts.
And remember to sign-up for Nutrition 101 to help you overcome your cravings.