We already know in our previous post that negative emotions zap energy therefore making us more prone to succumbing to our food addiction. In this part of the series, we will thoroughly discuss stress, how it causes food addiction, and how to better handle it.
What is Stress
Stress is the way we react when too much pressure is forced upon us. We usually feel stressed out when there are sudden changes or when we can’t handle an experience or situation we are in.
The body’s physiological response to stress is similar to that of when we feel negative emotions. When you feel stressed, blood pressure elevates, muscles tense, and heart beats fast. This is how the body prepares itself to fight or flee.
People respond differently to stressful situations. Some circumstances are handled well by several people while many others can’t seem to cope when placed in the same position. For example, many event coordinators enjoy the stress that they feel when planning for big events or parties because they just love the rush it brings. On the other hand, others feel like it is a herculean task that only professionals should take on.
Stress isn’t always a negative thing though. A little stress keeps you alert when you are scared or anxious during a meeting or presentation. This same stress pushes you to concentrate on your project to meet tomorrow’s deadline. See? Stress sometimes helps you meet the demands of your surroundings.
Stress and Food Addiction
Do you ever feel like you ran 10 kilometers after handling a stressful situation? Do you feel like you are so used up and tired after battling stress? The reason is that being stressed uses up much of the body’s energy for its processes.
Stress exhausts and depletes our supply of protein in the body. The body acquires protein from important tissues and vital organs. This protein is then made as a source of energy for the body.
Initially, the body gets its energy supply from glucose stored in the body. But when stocks of glucose run out, protein is the next energy source.
When we are in constant stress, our body tires our adrenal glands which produce a chemical called cortisol. As the gland releases the hormone, we feel a burst of energy. By the time this energy wanes, you feel as tired as your adrenal glands.
Proteins gathered from the lymph and thymus glands are converted into energy. As this happens, blood glucose levels and blood pressure increase. Minerals are obtained from the bones, fats are gathered, and unusual amount of salt is preserved.
However, one can cope with or recover from the body’s processes if the body acquires adequate amount of energy. Otherwise, the body will “eat” itself by exhausting resources from the immune system, and organs. By this time, the body is too weak to fight the stress. At best, the body will have chronic illnesses. At worst, the sufferer may have to face death.
What does stress have to do with food addiction then? As you have read, the body uses up all the energy to help us cope with stress. As your energy level decreases, your chance of fighting the urges and temptation to continually stuff yourself with food also lessens.
We can’t really avoid stress considering that we experience so many things all at once in a day. The best thing we can do to better handle stress (and then combat food addiction) is to equip ourselves with sufficient knowledge. Here’s what you can do:
- Set boundaries. Know what you can or cannot do. Set your limits and be true to them. Say ‘no’ when the need arises in your relationships be it in the workplace or personal life. I’m not saying that you should not challenge yourself. What I’m saying is that you should learn to recognize when enough is enough.
- Spend less time with people who stress you out. These people suck out the life from you so avoid them or give them little of your time. Try to fix your relationship with these people but if worse comes to worst, learn to burn those bridges.
- Adjust. If scary movies make you restless and scare the living daylights out of you, don’t watch them. If you find going to the grocery on a payday just ruins your day, go on a different day instead. If you easily get upset when you talk about certain things, then don’t talk about them. You know what makes you stressed out so do something to avoid those situations.
- Prioritize. Trim down your to-do list if you have too much going on. Pick which tasks are highly important or urgent and tackle them first. Only proceed to the less important tasks or errands if you are done with the important ones.
- Learn to effectively communicate with people. Talk if you have something to say or if something is bothering your mind. Don’t keep your thoughts and feelings locked up. Instead, respectfully voice out your concerns. Share your problems to a trusted friend if you can’t take it any longer. Talking helps.
- Give and take should be present in every relationship. If you want some changes in your relationship with other people, you need to meet halfway. This will give you a chance in improving your relationship with others.
- Confront your problems. If you have a deadline to meet tomorrow, refuse a party invitation and work on your task instead. This will help you avoid problems with your boss that will later cause stress. Do something to prevent problems from arising.
- Think positive. When you seem to be stuck in a rut and you feel that there is nothing you can do, look on the bright side of life. This stressful situation now may bring new learning and good fortune in the future. All the things in life will pass so don’t waste your time worrying too much about it.
- Don’t be a perfectionist. Lower your standards because nothing is ever perfect. Forgive as we all make mistakes.
- Accept that you can’t change everything. There are inevitable things and events that are beyond our control so face this reality. Instead, focus your energy on how you should react to these crises.
- Take time to have fun. According to Stanley Kubrick, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Break free from work from time to time. Set aside some time for some rest and relaxation. You can call a friend, go camping, spend some time with your pets, watch a funny movie, dance, or do anything that you enjoy doing.
- Practice healthy living. Set aside ample time every week to sweat it out. Exercising releases feel good hormones which aid in relaxing you. Eat a balanced meal everyday so that your body is better equipped to fight stress. Having quality amount of sleep helps as well.
Stress, aside from draining your energy levels, hinders you from succeeding your struggle against food addiction. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to effectively deal with the stressors in your life.
Aside from efficiently maneuvering away from stress, you should also keep your blood sugar levels in check, get some quality sleep, and keep an optimistic mind. Keeping this in mind will help you do something to boost your energy level which is vital in conquering your addiction to food.
We hope that this Energy and Addiction series will help you successfully manage your addiction. Good luck dear readers!