The Stress Eating Struggle
I will be sitting down with a patient discussing their weight loss struggles. I see on their chart that over the last month that they did not lose any weight. Before I can say anything the patient will lean forward in a hushed tone and say,”Dr. Powell, I have a secret. I’m a stress eater”.
A fireman/woman actively on a emergency call or fighting a fire.
Again they have ample time to eat.
EMT or paramedics actively on an emergency call
Again it’s usually not all day long.
An attorney working a legal case in the courtroom
Judges have very specific rules about eating or drinking.
But they always take recesses from time to time. But the food would have to be something really quick and convenient.
I’m sure we could come up with some other examples and I totally understand those particular situations and we have to work around them saying that they CAN’T eat.
But for most of us, you can eat. You just choose NOT to eat. You do not make time for yourself in YOUR busy day. When that happens because of that stress, whether the stress is a particular person or a situation. Who wins? And who is in control? You got it, your not in charge, the stress is. If you can pinpoint that that has become a problem for you and you can contribute even some of your weight gain or no weight loss to that stress you need to take charge and eat through the stress. It really doesn’t have to be a big battle. You just have to have a plan with food and the food/nutrition needs to be quick,convenient, portable, single serving, high quality, and taste great.
“Oh Dr. Powell, you make that sound so easy.” “How the heck do I find foods like that?”
I will show you, by teaching you about the Sneal.
But getting back to the “Stressed-out Non-Eaters”. They will go hours and hours and sometimes days and days without eating. But guess what they eventually do DO? They EAT!! And guess what the body has been doing for all that time without food? It has been shutting itself down. Going into the survival mode, dropping your metabolic rate way down in an attempt to preserve it’s own life. It is called, SURVIVAL, and we are damn good at it. We have been doing it for thousands and thousands of years.
So when they do eventually eat. Because you know they will. Maybe a big meal at the end of the day or at the end of the week. It doesn’t even need to be a lot of calories and guess what the body wants to do with every last calorie? STORE IT!! As fat. The ultimate storage material. When they put themselves into a feast or famine mode over and over again because of that “stress” it really slows down their metabolism and they just become better and better at storing energy. It can take months for the metabolic rate to recover even when they do get control of that stress. So in the meantime they are really good at storing energy as fat.
So through the stress and despite the stress guess what you need to do? EAT!! But I am a realist. So in order to fit into a very hectic day, the food needs to be quick, convenient, portable, single serving, high quality nutrition that taste great. Sometimes it might have to be in liquid form just so you can get it in quickly. By feeding the engine you will be keeping it running at it’s optimal potential instead of starving it into a shutdown mode. This is where the Sneal concept comes back into the picture. Please read my article all about Snealing.
So the other type of Stress Eaters are the people that you better watch your fingers and small pets and children around. These are the ones that eat everything in site and just feel like they can not stop. They feel completely out of control. Food is their counsel. Food becomes their only pleasure, their solace and comfort.
Either one of these scenarios can be just as dangerous. What becomes important is that you have to recognize the stress, that’s the first step. You would be surprised how many people don’t even recognized that they are being stressed. Then you have to make a very conscious decision. Is the stress going to control you or are you going to control the stress? If you let the stress, whether it is a situation or a person, affect whether you eat or don’t eat then the stress is in control and you are not.
I did not say this was going to be easy. Taking control of the situation is never easy but you need to do it. Sometimes when you get stressed the only thing you have control of is the food that you feed yourself.
Now I am a realist. You are not going to have time to be a chef in your kitchen. You are going to need things that are quick, convenient, portable, single serving, with excellent nutrition and that taste great. Try to find that in your local grocery store!! That is why I teach my patients about the concept of the Sneal. The major problem is that the grocery industry does not make Sneals. You will have to learn how to make them from grocery food but that takes a lot of education and pre-planning on your part. That is why over the last 12 years I have developed literally a grocery store of Sneals. If you told me twelve years ago that I would be a doctor with a grocery store I would have said your were crazy. This has become a labor of love for me because I use all of the Sneals and so does my entire family. I go to food shows across the country as well as sports nutrition shows looking for the highest quality nutrition that fits the parameters of a Sneal. That is why many times I recommend you fall back into or try a pattern like QuickStart or Jumpstart. Because when you get stressed the only thing you might have control over is what you put in your body. That is why you need food that you know have been hand picked for you.