Stressed to Eat

A vegetable-based diet is a big part of my life, in fact, for dinner last night I had beets, spaghetti squash, and a mound of broccoli rabe. Not too shabby, right? But, I must admit I do have my dietary hangouts—most take place when I’m stressed. After all, my ultimate vice? Food! Take my sushi folly for example:
I just had sushi for lunch—and now I’m annoyed with myself! Looks like no more fish for me this month, and there goes my day off from the gym this week. Me and my bright ideas, next time I get another bright idea I’ll try keeping this quote from Homer Simpson in mind, “Shut up, Brain, or I'll stab you with a Q-tip!”
When it comes to food, stress can bring out the worst in me. Come on, I know I’m not alone on this one. How many of you have perpetrated a stress-related dietary detour? Be it sushi, chocolate, salty snacks, or—heaven forbid—worse. Well, according to Sally Squires of The Washington Post stress eating is a major problem in this country, and, it has some experts perplexed:
For others, working long hours is the trigger. "I'm a junior in college and often find myself craving salty snacks when I'm stressed and working late into the night," a Lean Plate Club member in Annapolis noted in a recent e-mail…


…"Fight-or-flight is the normal response to stress," notes Tatjana van Strien, professor of psychology at Radboud University in the Netherlands. "All the blood goes to the muscles so that you're ready for action and not for eating…So stress eating is highly unadaptive and highly strange." What's more, when people are under great stress, such as the death of a family member, they tend not to eat.
Now, even though I’m guilty of occasional stress eating and cheating, I still think all this could just be another byproduct of toxic hunger; as described by Dr. Fuhrman. Check out this excerpt from Eat to Live and let me know if you feel the same way:
It is our unhealthy tendency to eat without experiencing true hunger that contributed to our becoming overweight to begin with. In other words, to have become overweight in the first place, appetite, food cravings, and other addictive drives that induce eating have come into play. Poor nutrition induces these cravings (addictive drives), and nutritional excellence helps normalize or remove them.
Dr. Fuhrman explores the stress-hunger-obesity connection further in "Stress Hunger"--The Cause Of Obesity. Here’s some of it:
Most people never experience the healthy sensation of feeling hungry. In fact, most people desire to avoid feeling hungry. I think feeling hunger is good to experience periodically. Hunger is important to aid in our enjoyment of food and get the precise signals from our body to know the amount of calories we need to maintain our lean body mass. When we eat when we are hungry food tastes much better and we are physiologically primed for proper digestion. Hunger, in the true sense of the word, indicates to us that it is time to eat again.
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Megan - January 24, 2007 3:54 PM

I am so glad that you are posting about how difficult it is to always stay on track! I try my best to eat only veggies, fruits and whole grains, but when I am stressed out I need some comfort food, which for me comes in the form of chocolate.

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