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Eat Your Stress Out

August 20, 2011

Work has been extremely busy this week. There is a large conference coming up in a few weeks at which I am expected to present to a group of 100-250 people. The content had to be written and slides had to be prepared. Then it all had to be re-done to fit a new template (and I suspect more changes will be necessary next week). I had to author a blog post for my project (my recent blogging skills coming in quite handy) at the request of my director. That’s in addition to the regular shenanigans like email, meetings and picking up dropped balls.

Yesterday, I did not get to eat lunch until 2:30 (which is extremely late for me even though I had my usual two breakfasts). We had a last minute partner meeting that I rushed to at noon. The meeting ran over time, so when I returned to my desk, I grabbed my salad and ran yet to another meeting.

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By the time I got home, I was mentally exhausted (it takes a lot these days for me to feel physically tired). Luckily, we had enough leftover broccoli stir fry that I simply reheated it in the microwave.

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Afterwards, I plopped on the couch with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia Frozen Yogurt, the latest season of Mad Men, and my hubby by my side.

I try to dedicate at least one post a week to some more “profound” material on healthy lifestyle. Today, it seems appropriate to talk about stress eating.

Cake Pie Panels

I am a bad stress eater. I don’t generally eat while I am stressed (my brain is too pre-occupied with the tasks at hand so sometimes I don’t even notice the hunger which is extremely uncommon for a girl who doubles her meals and eats every two hours.) But once the work is done and the sun sets, my hunger wakes up like a thirsty vampire and all hell breaks loose. From years of experience, I still have not conquered the stress eating (and have miserably failed yet again last night) but I am happy to share some theories on what one should do in a stress eating situation.

1. Go for it. If you are going to gorge, don’t deny yourself. I tried in the beginning, but that just resulted in me getting grumpy leading to tears streaming down my face for no apparent reason. Sometimes a girl just needs a good cry to let things out. I would never ever cry at work! I was once at a meeting where someone yelled at me (even though it was not my fault), so I calmly excused myself went to the bathroom to catch my breath and avoid the waterworks. Sometimes, when I get really frustrated or upset I go to my car and listen to music or call Eric to whine, but I’d never let my extreme emotions show in front of co-workers and always try to keep my composure. I might get teary-eyed when someone is telling a touching story (as I can be a sensitive and compassionate human being at times Winking smile).

2. Stick to fruit. When stress eating, it’s not a particular food craving that I need to satisfy or a treat I am after. It’s simply “shove your face with food until belly is full to the max”. In those situations, I try to go with something good to minimize the long term damage to my waistline. Last night I opted for watermelon. I can eat a giant portion and feel stuffed, but it’s mostly water.

3. Pick happy food. Some foods have natural mood enhancing properties and contain nutrients that stimulate release of endorphins in the brain which is particular valuable when you are stressed, tired, or depressed. Reach for chocolate, ice cream, strawberries, or mix all three together just like I did yesterday. Dark chocolate is an excellent choice, as even just the smell sends positive feelings to the brain which instantly calms me down, and it’s a great source of antioxidants and iron.

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4. Crunch away. If I am working on a project with a tight deadline, I might need to munch on something to keep me going through the long hours.

www.nataliedee.com
www.nataliedee.com

I choose baby carrots or grapes instead of empty carbs like chips or cookies. If carbs are a must, I go with 94% fat free popcorn or whole grain cereal (Mini-wheats are my absolute favorite, but they are high in sugar, so lately I’ve been substituting them with Kashi’s Cinnamon Wheat, which is a much better alternative).

5. Vent. Sometimes, you can stay clear of the kitchen altogether by calling a friend or a relative. I started calling my mom on Fridays after work to get the weekly ups and downs off my chest and some laughs with her funny yoga stories. (After years of trying, I have finally persuaded my mom to do some physical activity beyond walking. She signed up for a month of introductory yoga classes at a studio near her condo and has made it several times this week. Go mom! Her eye opening experience has been super entertaining to follow as she is coming to the realization that yoga involves a lot more than tight pants and sitting on a mat with your legs crossed Smile)

6. Exercise. Before my running addiction, I used to kickbox every Saturday morning. It’s a fantastic cardio workout and an amazing stress reliever. I’d get to punch, kick, smash things while grunting. Man, did that feel good! This morning I made it to yoga (last thing I wanted to do is look at myself in the mirror in snug clothing after last night’s binge. Good thing I’m not self-conscious Smile with tongue out).

www.nataliedee.com
www.nataliedee.com

Yoga works wonders if you are stressed. I completely zoned out thinking about my exercise plans for the weekend. I took my time during Shavasana to meditate and relax further.

[Jane Asks]: How do you deal with stress?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 22, 2011 6:54 pm

    I think I need more yoga in my life. And by more, I need some. Great post. Definitely good tips!

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