Is this your typical day?
- You get stressed out at work
- Don’t eat that much and generally worry
- Go home at night
- Begin stress eating
- Feel bad
- Go to work the next day and repeat
It’s time to end this cycle. You’re reading this right now so I’m assuming you’re ready!
Please note in this article I’ll be using stress eating and emotional eating interchangeablely.
The reason for this is simple – someone asked me to write about stress eating.
Now I personally believe that many times people have less resistance to admitting they have stress eating problems, as opposed to emotional eating problems.
Admitting you have an emotional eating problem can seem to imply you need years of therapy and there’s something wrong with you. That’s not true, but stress eating I believe carries less baggage with the word.
So while stress eating and emotional eating are not the same, in this article I will be using both terms interchangeably.
Let’s get onto the stress relief!
To talk with us today we’ll be bringing on Lula Brown!!
This article featuring Lula Brown has 4 sections for you to read and digest.
- How Lula First Developed Emotional Eating
- What Is Stress? Stress Definition, Stress Symptoms
- Lula Brown’s tips to calm down
- Other general lifestyle strategies to stop being stressed out
Lula Brown Show Notes
Lula Brown is an integrative nutrition health coach, reiki practitioner, and writer based in Costa Rica and New York. She specializes in intuitive eating, custom nutrition, and energy management.
In her private practice Lula works with women who want to stop dieting, heal from emotional eating habits, and restore their body’s natural metabolism. She’s contributed to Mind Body Green, Teen Vogue, and the Huffington Post, among other publications.
You can find Lula biking the Caribbean coast, trying new restaurants, pole dancing, or studying romance languages in her free time.
How Lula First Developed Emotional Eating – Section 1/5“I would eat all these beautiful, nutritious meals at home. And then I would go to girl Scouts and there would be a pizza there.” Click To Tweet
This first section is all about how Lula’s journey began.
(We’ll cover the definition of stress and stress relief strategies farther down below so keep reading!)
Here’s a quick overview of Lula’s journey.
- Narrow range of food first few years of life
- Sugary foods were novel and overeaten in secret
- Lula felt she was too big
- Started restricting and purging many times per week
What Is Stress? Stress Definition, Stress Symptoms – Section 2/5
This section features a more scientific overview of stress.
We’ll be coming back to Lula in the next section don’t worry 🙂
The reason I’m introducing some general stress education at this point in the article is because emotional eating and stress eating are so tied together.
For now let’s deep dive into:
- The definition of stress
- 5 more definitions of stress (in short stress quotes)
- Fight or flight response
- Stress symptoms
The definition of stress
Stress causes your body to react to something. It’s pretty simple to understand.
Your alarm rings. You respond by waking up. That’s stress.
Stressful emotions are a part of normal life. You can experience stress from normal everyday things without anything horrible happening.
(Ok, alarm clocks do suck but they aren’t horrible in the grand scheme of things)
Your body responds to stressful emotions with physical, mental or emotional responses.
The alarm clocks rings. You get up (physical), you think about your day and when the next cup of coffee is coming (mental) and you feel great, or like shit (emotional).
Below are a few more definitions of stress to help give you a better feel for various stress causes, stress definitions and stress symptoms.
5 more definitions of stress (in short stress quotes)
I got these stress quotes from this article here.
Stress Quote 1 – “Distress”
(Stress itself began as a variant of the term ‘distress’ in the fourteenth century. The medieval term actually meant physical hardship, pain, torture and starvation.)
Stress Quote 2 – “Psychological stress requires a judgment that environmental and/or internal demands exceed the individual’s resources for managing them.”
(Holyroyd and Lazarus in their research explained in 1982)
Stress Quote 3 – “A reaction of a particular individual to a stimulus event”
(Skinner in 1985)
Stress Quote 4 – “Stress can be defined as an underload or overload of matter, energy or information input to, or output from, a living system”
(Steinberg and Ritzmann in 1990)
Stress Quote 5 – “Pre-occupation with the negative emotion following the event”
What Is Stress? Understand Your Fight or Flight Response
Your body is designed to withstand and react to stress.
Stress can be positive, keeping you vigilant, motivated and prepared to avoid danger.
But … when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between stressors, stress becomes negative.
When stress becomes too much, your autonomic nervous system of the body has a response to stress.
This just means that if someone is yelling at you and threatening you, your body responds by preparing you to fight. Grr … go get em!!!
Or … the other dude you’re about to fight is way bigger than you … run!!!!
And nowadays there are actually other recognized responses to stress:
- Float (disconnect emotionally)
The key thing is that in all of these responses …
Your organs shut down (basically). Your brain power is being diverted to fighting, running away, freezing or floating.
Instead of worrying about your health, your brain is concentrated on keeping you alive!
In these stressful moments your body releases a hormone called cortisol. This hormone cortisol is a response to stress.
Now normally the hormone cortisol is useful for maintaining blood levels and is a vital part of mental health.
However, too much cortisol can lead to your body putting on weight and anxiety.
After too much stress for too many days and too much cortisol …
Your body will begin to exhibit stress symptoms.
Here are some stress symptoms indicating that you have been stressed out for too long and need a break!
- Teeth mowing, jaw clenched
- Symptoms of indigestion, or acid reflux
- Boost of desire, or failure
- Tension of the muscles in the neck, face or shoulders
- Problems falling asleep
- Chest pounding
- Palms which are cold and sweaty
- Fatigue, and exhaustion
- Shaking / Trembling
- Gaining or losing weight
- Stomach upset, and diarrhea
- Sexual troubles
Ok. Is stress becoming more clear for you?
Now that we have a better understanding of stress, let’s return to Lula and her strategies to relieve some stress.
Some of Lula Brown’s Strategies To Calm Down – Section 3/5
This section is relatively straightforward.
We simply talk about how to find stress relief and feel better.
Now stress relief and stress eating are related, but not totally the same.
Just because you reduce your stress doesn’t mean you’ll stop stress eating.
For example, you might get more sleep at night and feel better during the day … (a stress relief strategy)
But if you don’t eat enough during the day or ignore your body’s signals for food then you’ll still binge eat at night (although less food if you had skipped the stress relief)
In the next section 4/5 we’ll explore how to use these stress relief techniques in context of how to stop stress eating, but first …
Here’s an overview of Lula’s tips:
- Relax your face and body
- Place a hand on your heart and practice slow breathing
- Let negative emotions in (this sounds crazy but Lula explains this technique great down below!)
Relax your face and body
Place a hand on your heart and practice slow breathing
Let negative emotions in
Other general lifestyle strategies to stop being stressed out – Section 5/5
- Keep a positive attitude. The glass is half full! (even if you don’t believe this, then just look for the silver lining.)
- Accept that events are uncontrollable. What can you control?
- Be assertive not aggressive. Instead of becoming angry, defensive or passive, assert your feelings, opinions or beliefs.
- Learn relaxation techniques to relieve stress and practice them; try meditation, yoga or tai-chi (or in Lula’s case Reiki)
- Find new ways your body regularly and in a joyful way. Your body is better able to relieve stress when it’s fit.
- Eat well balanced, healthy meals, plenty of protein, fats and carbs.
- Try to listen to sensations of hunger and fullness
- When you do eat junk food or comfort foods don’t freak out. Stay mindful and pay attention gently.
- Learn how to organize and manage your time more effectively so that you don’t procrastinate.
- Set appropriate limitations and say no to requests that will create excessive stress in your life.
- Make time for your interests and hobbies, and maybe take a bubble bath too!
- Get enough rest and get enough sleep. Sleep is very important for mental health and we all need more sleep.
- To reduce stress, try to cut back on alcohol, drugs or compulsive behaviours.
- Seek social support. Spend time with those that you love. Family can be both a blessing and a curse. Make sure that you seek out social support by
Please note – each of these self-care practices is pretty intensive.
I’d suggest you prioritize one or two of these behaviors for 30 days and see how you feel.
Remember these are self-care practices. You have to really prioritize these behaviors and practice them!
As you practice these stress relief strategies will become easier and more natural to you.
Then you can add in another stress relief strategy.
Over time, this is how you stop stress eating.
- You prioritize self-care.
- With self care, you relax.
- With relaxation, you can listen to your body.
For another article on stress relief, you can read my other post here “How To Not Stress Eat To Stop Stress Eating By Flooding Yourself With Love“
For another interview of mine about stress, click here!