Stress Eating

October 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

Everyone knows that planning is key to weight loss success.

After all—you know the saying…..

If you fail to plan—you plan to fail

But how would you feel if every time you planned something—an unforeseen circumstance came along and threw all your plans out the window?  What if  after careful planning, you realized that an extra 1,0000 calories suddenly attached themselves to your day out of no where?  This is what you would probably think—

What’s the point of planning???  If no matter what I do, things randomly go OFF PLAN then why do I even bother?!

This is how the after effects of stress eating often feel for someone who is trying to lose weight.  They may do everything they are “supposed” to do by carefully planning out their meal plans and exercise routines.  Yet no matter how detailed their planning may be, they cannot always predict or plan for the stress that is going to come their way during the day.   Not everyone is a stress eater but for those that are—-this is the bump in the road.  This is the snake in the grass.  It’s the thief in the night that steals your success right out from under you.

Meal plans and workouts need to be planned and scheduled.  That is key for success in weight loss.  But stress cannot be planned.  It can’t be scheduled on a calendar.  Stress comes when it will for the most part.  And that makes you like a ship in the sea.  Always ready to succumb to the winds that want to capsize it.   Stress eaters cannot generally predict when their behavior of stress eating will kick in.  After all, you aren’t a fortune teller.  You don’t know that today at 3 pm someone will rear end you at a stoplight.  How could you predict that?  If you’re a stress eater, that may mean that while you planned out your food today—-it will end with an entire cheesecake when you get home due to the stress from your fender bender.  If you had known that was going to happen, you could have logged it into your food plan in advance! If you had known that next Wednesday you would get bad news at work, you could have penciled in “Quart of Ice Cream” and saved calories for it.   But you didn’t know.

And you never WILL know.  

Because you cannot predict stressful events that happen on the fly.  They just happen.  And that means that if you’re a stress eater, your well laid plans might as well never be written in pen.  They might as well be nothing more than light pencil ready to be erased and filled in with ice cream sundaes and 500 extra calories every time your stress level goes up because you are ALWAYS at risk of being thrown off your plan.

Do you sit around and wonder at the end of every week why you just can’t ever seem to lose weight?  Do you ever think to yourself at the end of the day,

“What happened? It started out so great!”

It’s probably not as mysterious as you think.  In fact, it is simple! You have chosen to use food as a way to cope with stress.  If this is your chosen coping mechanism, then this is the reality:

Food is your BFF, Counselor, Therapist, Spouse, and Crisis Hotline

 It’s what you reach for when the pressure hits.  And why??  Well why not?!!   Eating is a HIGHLY effective way to cope with stress!  It is many times more effective than any of the above things I have mentioned.  There are times in my life when an ice cream sundae was far more effective in making me feel better than anything my BFF, a counselor, therapist, spouse or crisis hotline could say to me.   I’ve even found a King size Snickers bar to be a quicker fix than any medication the world could offer me!  We use food because it works.  It is instantly available and immediately effective.

Plus it’s not illegal!  And you don’t have to be 21 to purchase it.  It’s even more socially acceptable than a lot of other things people use for an instant relief.  More than that, we encourage each other to use food in this way.  Families literally raise their children to do this.  Offering food when a child scrapes their knee.   Using food as a reward when we make it through a tough assignment.  Food is comfort.  And it’s totally acceptable to feel that way about it.  So why not?!  There aren’t a lot of other things out there that are so instantly effective and also accessible at a moment’s notice! That’s why they call it comfort food after all!   It just works!

Eating has been my number one way to cope with stress my entire life.   It got me through my parents divorce, my divorce, single parenting, deaths of family members and any number of other highly stressful events.  In addition to that, it has made almost anything stressful easier and more enjoyable.  Long car trip ahead?  Pack snacks!  Uncomfortable social event? Food to the rescue!  Whatever is happening in my life can be made easier if food is involved.

Eating is by far one of the most effective ways to handle stress.  This is why after a funeral you will often have a huge potluck.  When someone is sick in your neighborhood or a family has had a traumatic event happen—what is the very first thing people tend to do?

Organize a group of people together to bring food to them !  

And why do we do this?  Is it because we just want to save them time with a chore?  Do we bring food to people after a stressful event because we feel they won’t have time to cook? Well it’s true that they may have less time but is that REALLY why we are bringing them food?  I don’t think so.  If we were just interested in helping them out with chores that take up their time then we’d  offer to wash their laundry and clean the house.  That takes more time than cooking dinner!  But instead we bring food.  And that’s because as a society we all know that food is comforting. It’s uplifting. It makes people happy.  Even in the midst of the worst times, food can usually lift someone’s spirits.

Wow.   Food is powerful isn’t it?  No wonder so many people use it to combat stress!!

While one time major events can be stressful (like a death in the family or divorce)….the REAL problem is every day stress.

All those one million little things throughout the day that raise our blood pressure.

Like the trash overflowing

Traffic when you’re running late

The teenage daughter who insists that EVERY SINGLE THING THAT HAPPENS is a life ending tragedy.

The kids bickering with each other in the backseat while you’re trying to drive.

(Tell me THIS doesn’t want make you want to head for McDonald’s!)

But here’s a truth we probably need to realize.

As much as I’ve said that stress is NOT predictable—in reality, it kind of IS !!!

You may not know what stressful thing will happen today but you should be able to predict that it will be something.  If you get through the day , stress free then that’s awesome.  But to expect that to happen—well, that’s just naive.  We shouldn’t plan for stress in a negative way.  Like the person who always expects bad things to happen!  But if we don’t have a plan in place on how to handle stress when it comes then we will always go to food.  If we are stress eaters, then that’s how we are programmed.   It’s just IN US to do that.   And unless we actively plan to handle our stress in some alternate way–then that is how we are always going to be.

We spend so much time focusing on planning our food.  Shopping for it, buying it, maybe even preparing it ahead of time . We spend time downloading apps for logging it.  We do the same thing with our workouts.  But if we fail to plan how to handle the daily stress that is going to attack us—then we might as well never have bothered at all.

The most well laid food and exercise plans WILL FAIL if we never guard ourselves against stress eating.  Because the stress will never stop.  Tomorrow there will be more too.  It may not be life ending . It may not be major.  But if you got out of bed today—you encountered stress.  And until you learn to cope with stress in other ways—stress eating will always keep you from being successful in weight loss.

So what is the answer?  What do you do when stress makes you want to eat?

One of the problems I’ve had recently is that I’ve allowed food to once again be a source of comfort.  I’ve let it weasel its empty promises right back into my life.  That’s how I’ve regained weight.  Food is becoming too emotional for me again.  It’s making itself a little too important!!  And it’s time for me to remember what worked in the first place.

Sometimes I suffer from “amnesia”  in my weight loss journey.  I get off track and suddenly can’t recall anything that I ever did right.  I look back and wonder, “How did I do that??”  This is why journaling or blogging is so useful!!  Have you ever seen those skits where someone gives advice to their past self?  They travel back in time and tell their younger self what to do now that they’re older and wiser? Well, sometimes that is what WE have to do with weight loss.

Except its backwards.

We let our PAST self (the one that was experiencing success) talk to our PRESENT self.

Remind ourselves what we were doing before that worked.  So we can do it once again!!!

So in an effort to remind myself of what needs to be done.  I will link you to some of my blog posts that were written when I was on track.  Reading them actually helped me a lot!! It removed my amnesia and made me remember some strategies and tools I had forgotten about.  More than that, it reminded me that THAT WAS ME!! I was the person writing that.  I was the person in control.  If I could do it then, I can do it again!

Here is some advice from my former self:

Strategies: How to stop yourself

Audio Recording: Visualization Techniques

Breaking up With Food: Strategies to Try

Who said talking to yourself can’t work?  Sometimes I have some good advice if the other part of my brain will just shut up and listen!

How about you? Do you have any tips and tricks to avoid stress eating?  Share them!!

AND if you haven’t already—check out my October “Not Afraid” Challenge that I posted yesterday.

I’m doing a Giveaway! (FREE STUFF!) and my kids even helped me me make a video for it.

Check it out!  And  then tell me your fears.

Let’s make October the month we face our fears and kick them in their behind!!

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Calleigh October 3, 2014 at 11:17 pm

Loved your video! I share many of the same fears, you’re not alone that’s for sure.
My biggest fear is regaining weight so so easily. It’s been so incredibly hard to lose, but oh so easy to regain. That scares me!


Holly from 300 Pounds Down October 3, 2014 at 11:41 pm

I totally relate Calleigh!


Linda carson October 4, 2014 at 12:17 am

Love u
Love ur blog !!



Holly from 300 Pounds Down October 4, 2014 at 12:29 am

Thank you Linda!


Christine October 4, 2014 at 1:12 am

Ugh, stress blows! I liked your video. I have more kids than you do and it multiplies ten fold with each one.
Christine recently posted..October goalsMy Profile


Holly from 300 Pounds Down October 4, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Christine, I hear you!!! And God bless you with all the kids. I know it takes work and can be very stressful!! Hang in there!


Faith October 4, 2014 at 2:58 am

Easily my favorite posting yet, Holly. 🙂 I hope you do more vlogs in the future, you’re a natural at it.
Fears..hmm…well, I suppose, I have fears that I won’t ever be happy with my body or how I look.


Holly from 300 Pounds Down October 4, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Thanks Faith!! My daughter Annabelle is the one who knows how to do videos. I haven’t a clue!! It gave us something that we could do together and it was fun!


FlamingJune October 5, 2014 at 5:18 am

Hmmm… this is a tough one for me. I suffer from anxiety – even medicated for it – but I don’t consider myself a fearful person. What I mean is that I don’t worry about things most people worry about. I don’t worry about my kids safety, about the bills, about relationships etc. What I am fearful of is silly things like watching a movie I don’t know the ending of, or making a phone call to someone I know. I cannot attend meetings where participants are encouraged to …um… participate because I don’t know what they might say. And even though I can speak in front of hundreds with no problem, I cannot attend a party with only a dozen people without experiencing extreme anxiety. I have really felt lately that the Lord is prompting me back into actively serving others (as I have in the past), but I know that this will lead to much anxiety and pain. So right now, my biggest fear is that my anxiety will keep me from stepping out and following Christ. Or worse, that I will follow, but will end up scarred and hurt.


Holly from 300 Pounds Down October 5, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Now that is really interesting. It seems that the more intimate the environment, the more anxious you are. I have to admit that I do often google the end of movies. It’s almost like I can’t deal with not knowing. I like to be prepared. I even read ahead for spoilers of shows like Survivor if I can find them because I like to mentally prepare myself for what’s going to happen! I relate to a lot of what you are saying. I know what you mean about stepping out in faith and then being concerned of what will happen. I often think this when I post blogs that feel too personal. And yet I made a decision in the beginning that I would put it out there. Sometimes it does cause me pain when people respond back to me with criticism. More often than not though I have people who relate. I think if God is leading you to do something then go for it. I believe He will guard your heart and protect it in the process.


FlamingJune October 6, 2014 at 1:17 am

Holly, I have to tell you that today was a big step for me. You see, twice a year my church hosts a picnic after church, and I have avoided these picnics for 11 years, because the last one I attended brought on a massive panic attack. Picnics tick off several anxieties on my list
1) anxiety about lack of organization (chaos)
2) anxiety about people not being talked to/made to feel welcome (I have a terrible problem with being overly empathetic)
3) FOOD – lots of food that will spiral me out of control. Usually, in situations like this my mind is dominated by thoughts of food, to the point that I can barely carry on a conversation with anyone.

Today I did something I have never done before. I ate before I went, and then didn’t ever even approach the buffet tables. Instead, I made a purposeful effort to spend time with every person who was sitting eating alone. It was amazing! Instead of feeling overwhelmed by all the people, I just kept asking Jesus – “Who do you want me to talk to next?” And guess what? He was with me the whole time. I never experienced any anxiety and ended up being the last person to leave! Plus, I added 3 new facebook friends and became acquainted with several ladies whose names I did not previously know. I cannot even begin to tell you how victorious I feel right now!


tb October 5, 2014 at 6:27 pm

i loved that video! so well done. I can relate to a lot of this. i need to lose fifty pounds. it sounds like so little, but to me it feels like i will never ever be able to lose that weight. i lost several pounds a while ago but now my weight does not want to move at all. oh well, i will have to keep at it. meanwhile, your blog is so awesome to read!! i just love it!!!!


Holly from 300 Pounds Down October 5, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Thank you so much!! I appreciate your feedback!


Tess October 6, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Oh my goodness, this is my favorite post EVER!!! LOVE the video! Thank you for posting this, this rocked! I love the scale part, you just know you’re going to kick butt, and then you step on the darn thing and your heart sinks. Yup…been there done THAT!


Tess October 6, 2014 at 7:03 pm

oh, ps…my fears…I really do fear gaining weight again, and then everything that goes along with that. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, all of these things run in my family. I fear dying before my kids are adults. I fear making the wrong choices for my kids, and I fear losing them (which I think all parents fear!).

I also fear clowns. True story. Those things are just creepy and wrong.


Anneli Byrd October 6, 2014 at 10:29 pm

So relate. Stress, boredom (boredom is a big one), happiness, I can’t think of an emotion that doesn’t make me want to eat. One thing I’ve learned is that I can’t substitute food like the diet gurus always suggest. If I want chocolate cake, an apple is NOT going to do the trick. However–if I just accept that an apple is an apple–then I can enjoy it for what it is. Of course I still want the cake, but at least I don’t resent the apple. The reason this relates here, is that I try to use “safe” food to combat stress etc eating. I like what my psych prof once said about addiction–there is both the physical response AND the habit. For a smoker, there is the nicotine hit that they crave AND the hand to mouth actions and all the social trappings.
This isn’t a magic cure—and it’s for sure not going to work for Hollie who has trouble with bite size food, but it helps me to have bags of carrots, celery, zuchhini, 100 cal bag of popcorn, whatever, that I can just have at my desk and mindlessly munch on during stressful, boring times. It doesn’t satisfy the physical craving, but it DOES give me the hand to mouth action that I want,and plus it helps me get my veggies in. Definitely not a solution, but a help. 🙂
Anneli Byrd recently posted..Feeling fat/thinMy Profile


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