Here is a scenario that is familiar to far too many people:
You have a stressful day, whether it’s at your job, school or with your personal relationships.
You feel frustrated, don’t know what to do and are overwhelmed.
Your mind is racing, your stomach is churning and you’re struggling to take a deep breath.
So you drive home in a rage, cutting off other drivers on the highway, slam the car door, yell at the dog…
…and reach for some Ben & Jerry’s. Or chocolate. Or chips, cookies, donuts, crackers, whatever you can get your hands on.
You feel better—more relaxed, calm and in control.
Until the next time you get stressed, that is. Then this scene will replay itself.
Oh, and unfortunately at some point you begin noticing that your pants are getting tight and your stomach is bloated a lot.
Welcome to the world of stress eating.
The hefty price of stress eating
Stress eating takes its toll on your health in many ways, the most obvious being in your girth.
Since many stress eaters reach for refined carbohydrates (which turn to sugar in your body), this can cause repeated influxes of glucose into your bloodstream and eventually make you a candidate for insulin resistance and eventually Type 2 diabetes.
In addition, the sugar from refined carbs feeds the harmful bacteria in your intestinal tract. This can lead to digestive problems like IBS symptoms, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and leaky gut.
Now, stress eaters KNOW that they should stop this cycle, but that’s easier said than done for most. Some may desperately try to resist the beckoning of the refrigerator, pantry or vending machine, but then break down in that moment of weakness and give in.
I have some good news for you: You CAN break free of stress eating.
But first it’s important to understand exactly what’s going on when you’re shoveling it in under stress. Then you will be able to take steps to turn that around and stop the cycle for good!
It’s all in your hormones
Back in our caveman days, when faced with the stress of encountering a wild animal or rival tribe, our bodies would gear up to deal with the stress by releasing two hormones (adrenaline and cortisol). These hormones would raise the heart rate, dilate the blood vessels and mobilize fat and carbohydrates stored in the body for quick energy for the “fight or flight” reaction.
That’s what helped give ancestors the fuel they needed to fight off the attacker or run at the speed of light.
Once the stress was over, adrenaline would subside pretty quickly, but cortisol would hang around for a while to help refuel the body and bring it back to balance.
One of the ways cortisol does this is by giving you a voracious appetite that drives you to replace the carbs and fats you used up in the process of fighting or fleeing.
Now, our modern day stresses are much different–we’re not running from tigers anymore. Our stresses are more emotional and psychological. But your body’s hormonal reaction to those stresses is the SAME.
So Dunkin’ Donuts to the rescue.
The effects of chronic stress
When you’re under longstanding chronic stress, your cortisol levels are raised and remain high. This creates a buildup of abdominal fat (our primitive emergency energy supply)—so that’s when you see the emergence of a spare tire or muffin top.
It also leads to depressed immune function, low thyroid function, problems with controlling blood sugar, impaired memory and concentration, adrenal fatigue (“burnout”) and eventually, chronic illness.
With continual stress (and high cortisol levels) you are susceptible to conditions like diabetes (as I mentioned above), plus high blood pressure, stroke, blood clots and colon cancer.
Break the stress eating cycle
Clearly, it’s essential to break the cycle of stress eating and chronic stress. Your health and quite possibly your life depend on it.
Trust me, it CAN be done.
Instead of immediately caving into your craving, here are 10 strategies for safely and naturally relieving stress and conquering those cravings:
1) Wait 10 minutes before giving in to a craving
If you can distract yourself by answering an email, doing a load of laundry, making a phone call, feeding the cat or running an errand, you may forget about your craving!
2) NEVER go hungry or skip meals
Hunger can trigger intense cravings for sugar, so be sure to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. If you are busy and miss a meal, snack on protein foods like leftover beef, chicken or fish or a handful of nuts.
3) Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
Fresh produce is full of antioxidants and phytochemicals that eliminate the free radicals caused by stress.
4) Drink green tea
Not only is green tea alkaline (which is good for a healthy pH), but it contains the amino acid theanine, which relaxes your brain and helps control cortisol levels.
5) Turn off the TV and computer
TV and computer ads expose you to endless numbers of food commercials that are specifically designed to trigger cravings so the fast and processed food companies can expand their bottom lines while your bottom side grows.
6) Get enough Zzzz’s
Fatigue and sleep deprivation lead to carb cravings because glucose is our primary source of energy, and carbs are converted rapidly to glucose.
The average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, so if you’re getting less than that, it’s time to turn in earlier.
7) Move your body—more than to the refrigerator and back
Exercise counteracts stress and cravings by releasing endorphins, the hormones that produce calm, feel-good feelings.
It’s not necessary to join a gym or buy expensive equipment. Even brisk walking is fine, and nearly everyone can do that.
8) Drink enough water
Every system of your body depends on water to remove wastes, bring nutrients and oxygen to the cells, aid in digestion and maintain normal metabolism. In addition, many people mistake thirst for hunger, so what may seem like a craving to you could be your body telling you to drink more water.
You should aim to drink at least 8 glasses water a day. And note that water means water and not sports drinks, soda, coffee, alcohol or juice.
9) Eat foods with anti-stress vitamins and minerals
These include foods with Vitamins A, B6, C and E as well as potassium, magnesium, calcium and zinc. Here are some good sources of each:
- Vitamin A: Carrots, sweet potatoes, greens, bell peppers
- Vitamin B6: Bananas, salmon, potatoes, chicken, turkey and spinach
- Vitamin C: Strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, oranges, cauliflower
- Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, spinach, blueberries, greens
- Potassium: Yams, spinach, avocado, lentils, winter squash, bananas
- Magnesium: Black beans, navy beans, salmon, spinach, sesame seeds, halibut
- Calcium: Greens, sesame seeds, dairy
- Zinc: Lean beef or lamb, turkey, green peas, shrimp, sesame seeds
10) And the ALL IMPORTANT number 10:
**Make sure your digestion is top-notch**
All the healthy food in the world will do you and your stress levels no good if your digestion is incomplete and inefficient.
Poor digestion not only worsens stress-related problems like acid reflux, gas, bloating and constipation, but it also reduces your ability to absorb stress-reducing nutrients from your foods.
So the stress hunger bell will continue to ring for you!
But don’t worry, because achieving efficient digestion is easier than you think.
I’ll show you exactly what to do in the Great Taste No Pain health system.
The Great Taste No Pain manuals show you how to create luscious meals made from real (not processed) foods that are much easier for your system to digest.
This can help reduce “gas attacks,” bloating and constipation as well as enhance nutrient absorption.
And the GTNP recipe book is loaded with scrumptious dishes that feature many of the stress-relieving foods I mentioned above!
Now, if you’ve got gluten issues, I haven’t forgotten you. Great Taste No Gluten is for you instead.
Don’t forget the little guys
Not only does stress cause cravings, but it also throws your intestinal flora balance completely out of whack and compromises your immune system. This makes you susceptible to every bug, cold, virus or infection around.
It’s essential to make sure your body has the levels of beneficial bacteria that it needs to counteract the effects of stress and keep you healthy.
In addition to eating foods that nourish your army of good guys (like fresh fruits and vegetables) it’s a good idea to supplement with a potent probiotic product.
Super Shield’s 13 strains of potent beneficial bacteria are feisty and ready to claim their place on your intestinal walls, helping to fight off harmful bacteria and pathogens and beef up your immune system.
In addition, these good guys also help enhance nutrient absorption, which is critical to help avoid food cravings.
We can’t always eliminate stress from our lives…but we can certainly help fight its effects.
When you can safely and naturally counteract stress eating, you can make a tremendous difference in your health and weight well into your golden years!