The #MakeBetter Challenge has been a series of ups and downs for me as far as food goes. Sarah and I are in week 4 of the makeover challenge and Sarah is doing very well with the workouts and the food. She’s documenting what she’s eating and all of the calories.
My relationship with food is complicated. I love to eat, but I also sometimes turn to it in times of stress. I asked our Celebrity Dietician Ashley Koff RD what I could do to combat my compulsion to eat.
Yvonne - I’ve had definite highs and lows during the challenge.
Ashley - (Hopefully without sounding glib) I will offer that this is the way that life goes; we have highs and lows – physically and emotionally – what we want to get from our nutrition is fuel that helps us keep those more like rolling hills rather than peaks and valleys most of the time. We also want to learn that when we are high or low emotionally our body calls out for things (like when we are fatigued and thus feeling low) like quick energy options – sugar, stimulants etc. when we are high – a feeling the body and the mind often like in the moment, we often want to stay that way so we aim for the same things. The biggest issue is what happens after those quick energy options fade – we are often worse off, lower, higher, which can mean anxious, annoyed, disassociated mind & body etc., which leads me to my advice in the next section.
Yvonne – My lowest low was when I stress ate a half a bag of cheddar popcorn (it was Whole Foods organic popcorn and a small bag, but still!). What can I do in stressful situations to avoid grabbing something to eat or what can I grab that would be more healthy?
Ashley – Okay, so in the scheme of things – what kind of a low was this? How does it compare to the 3-4 glasses (not always full I know) of wine that can happen at a social event or a slew of bites of goodies when you go out with the moms? Organic popcorn meant no GMOs and it does give you fiber & quick energy carbs, it may have some sodium so it could leave you thirsty, and without any protein you will likely get hungry just an hour later or so. But even the portion you described isn’t that far over what a portion could be if you had chosen to have it.
And herein lies the issue – when we are stressed, we often don’t feel as though we “chose” (or we don’t want to admit it) what we eat or drink. It feels like it’s happening to us. So consciousness is the key here. First, take 5 breaths when you are stressed – you know the kind where you breath in through your nose for 3 seconds, hold for 2-3, and breathe out your mouth for 3 or 4 seconds – or even longer if highly stressed – visualize you are blowing out your stress. In under one minute you can bring your body out of fight or flight and into a calmer state (which helps digestion, too), but also will make you conscious of your food choice – it may even help you note that you aren’t really hungry. You could need water or a nap or a laugh or a hug instead. What can I do in stressful situations to avoid grabbing something to eat or what can I grab that would be more healthy? Here it wasn’t a “more healthy” grab, but rather the act of the grab that we are trying to address. I have a client who throws back kale juices but still battles acid reflux…he won’t stop drinking in his car while talking on his phone…his body is telling him “no” when the acid goes the wrong way and he exclaims to me “but i am drinking the healthiest stuff on the planet” – often its not the what but the how and why that can play bigger roles.
Yvonne – I have a lot to think about.
Yvonne Condes and Sarah Auerswald are the co-Founders of MomsLA.com, a community of Top Mom Bloggers in Los Angeles and Southern California.