The Daily Beet

08 Apr Stress!!

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goodgrief

I’ll be the first to admit, when I feel stress I want to eat. More so, I want to eat food that is definitely not healthy. More so, we’re talking about chocolate, probably some soy ice-cream, and more than likely some kind of cupcake with icing, also, possibly, veg. pizza.

I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. I used to really get mad at myself for this reaction to stress. I would be going along just fine, then something stressful would happen, and BAM it is all I can do to not go find the nearest bar of dark chocolate and devour it, well if we’re being honest, devour a few.

It never made me feel better. It always made me feel that much worse. That and my blood sugar (as a former out of control T2 diabetic) would sky rocket, and I’d feel even worse.

It wasn’t until I figured out why we respond this way to stress that I was able to make changes. The past few days have been pretty stressful, my car broke down, I oweA LOT more than I thought I would in taxes, found out I needed a dental procedure done, and then a slew of other personal life stuff.

All I wanted was chocolate cake. I was bargaining through the whole thing. I NEVER eat cake. The store has vegan chocolate cake. It’s only one slice.

And then I started to go through the WHY. Why do I  (and you) crave calorie dense foods when we are stressed?

Survival.

Think to what it was like back in the day. Even as early as 100 years ago. Our ancestors used environmental clues to determine if they were going to be in trouble. If they sensed trouble (famine, war, drought) they ate more, because they knew that there was a chance they would be going without food.

Stress was a signal that something was about to go wrong in their environment and it was a very natural response to get in more calories, in case they were not going to be eating for a while.

We still think this way. Something in our brain says STRESS!!! EAT!!!! YOU MIGHT DIE!!!!

In my case: STRESS!!!! EAT CHOCOLATE CAKE!!! YOU MIGHT DIE!!!

So now I do a few things before I end up at the store in front of the cake, and chocolate, and soy ice-cream and pizza.

1. I tell myself it’s going to be ok, and I think ahead to how it’s all going to work out in the end. I mentally go through the different solutions, and I come up with workable plans.

2. I consult people who are more wise than I am. I am fortunate to have some really smart people in my life, I call them, I ask for their advice, I try to get more than one brain on an issue.

3. I workout. This is probably the best thing I’ve learned to do when I’m feeling stress. I get out a lot of that stress adrenaline , it gives me time to think a little, and it takes me out of the situation.

4. I breathe. Seems obvious, but just sitting and breathing for a few minutes has done wonders for me. It gets me to pause and to calm down before I make any decisions.

5. I press pause. I don’t tell myself “I won’t have cake” I say “I’ll have cake tomorrow”. And then I do all of the steps above. Hitting the pause button helps a lot, and it is not a final decision, it’s just a “maybe later”.

So next time you are feeling stressed and the need to eat, know that you are completely normal, because your brain is telling you it’s important to survive. Then, take a breath, and do something proactive to get you through the stress.

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NatalaE2
Natala Constantine

Natala is the director of communications for Engine 2 Diet, she is also one of our coaches on our support site, Engine 2 Extra. A few years ago, Natala was at the end of her rope. She was on almost 15 medications daily, had out of control Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, issues with nerve damage, and was morbidly obese. She was just over 30 years old. She decided to take her life back by becoming plant-strong. She has lost over 200 pounds, got off of all of her medications and now has great health numbers. Natala plays the violin and studied music therapy. She became passionate about plant-strong nutrition, received her Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University, a certificate in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and is currently pursuing a degree in nutritional sciences. Natala is also a featured speaker at our Engine 2 Retreats she talks about the reality of our nations obesity epidemic as well as providing practical steps to becoming a healthier person.

  • Jess

    PLEASE WRITE A BOOK ALREADY!!!!

    • Michelle

      What Jess said! You have a huge fan base natala and so much good advice that is actually real and practical and you’ve been in all of our shoes!!

  • MadCity Minnie

    Actually you already have a book -if you use the essays you have written in this blog. Just call it something with “Real Life” in the title – because that is what you are writing about:). You can reach a lot more people who really would relate to your experiences. Maybe the publisher of the Engine2 books would do this.

  • Jill

    We need to write a petition for Natala to write a book Minnie. I agree, she’s written so much that she has more than a books worth!!! Natala – make it happen. We’re all cheering you on.

  • Sue in TX

    You crack me up girl. You are funny, smart, and you understand!!!! We all want chocolate when we are stressed. My taxes are killing me! I went through a whole package of oreos yesterday. This is very helpful.

  • Penny

    Natala, I WILL buy your book and recommend it to everyone :-D In your spare time!

  • Heather McCall Orellana

    I always feel so inspired by your words. You help me feel like I’m not crazy or broken, and help me to believe I can do this successfully. I can’t thank you enough for continuing to share your journey with us.