If binge or stress eating was something you developed later in life, I can pretty much assure you that it was an attempt to divert your mind from some sort of stress.
When I say stress, I don’t just mean a long week at work or feeling tired. I mean stress in a deeper way which shakes up your mind and makes you feel terrible deep within.
If you allow yourself to feel that is.
Note: Of course, you always cared too much about your weight or body, which is why you defaulted to food in the first place. People who are happy with their physiques usually have the opposite reaction to stress – they stop eating. Ever notice that?
Often when we are shaken to our very souls, we try to avoid dealing with the stress hoping that if we avoid it, it will go away.
Instead of dealing with it rationally however, we are only pushing it down to our primitive brains which interpret the stress as a threat to our survival. This triggers the fight or flight response within the body and to restore normalcy, we eat to feel better (to the biology geeks, this is the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system in action).
Eating in this case is really a pacifying mechanism which happens because we are avoiding dealing with the stress rationally. Basically, it’s your brain being a naughty child and trying to catch your attention.
On the flip side then, if we are able to address our stress in a systematic rational grown-up logical way, we would be able to stop this entire loop right in its tracks.
How to deal with stress effectively?
- Accept That You’re Stressed
In a world where stress and emotions are considered a weakness, it’s difficult to acknowledge the truth. Stress however is neither a strength nor a weakness – it’s simply a sign. A sign that something is not quite right.
You can choose to follow the sign and make changes to improve your life for the better. Or you can choose to ignore it and walk in the opposite direction sabotaging yourself.
I sincerely hope than you can choose to accept that you’re stressed. This is the first and biggest step to dealing with stress positively.
- Acknowledge the “real” cause of stress
The second step is to verbalize what our real cause of stress is. This isn’t just the surface level “My boss is a b**ch and that’s stressing me out” type of statement. Rather, it’s to dig deeper and figure WHY a bad boss is getting you stressed.
There is something about the way you are responding to your boss that is making you feel this bad – is it because you are letting their opinion of work impact your self-esteem? Is it because you are pissed that you couldn’t defend your rationale?
Stress is always a result of how you feel about the situation that happened to you – if you had the perfect response to shut your boss up, would you be feeling stressed about it or would you be elated?
- Fix the roots
Once you’ve identified the real cause of stress, you now have the option of fixing the root issue so it doesn’t happen again. This might mean changing how you respond in certain situations or learning a new skill to get better.
Or you might choose not to do anything about it, which is perfectly fine as well.
By doing this work, you now understand why you feel the way you feel, and that it’s not something to be scared of. Instead of defaulting to a fight or flight response, you can now simply brush off what’s happening in your life and move on. When your body has nothing to be worried about, it won’t rely on food to make itself feel better ☺