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Connect Stress and Eating_Final

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>> Hi. It's great to be here again with you. In this lecture, we're going to build on the topic of stress by discussing common relationships between stress and emotional eating. To help clarify, we're going to use the stress cycle as a guide for understanding the emotional eating cycle. Let's start by taking a look at some common relationships between stress and eating. Now this isn't an exhaustive list. It's meant to get you thinking and applying these ideas to your own lives so that you can support your clients from a more grounded place. As we discuss these relationships, think about examples in your own life and in lives of people you know that illustrate other relationships between stress and eating habits. By now, hopefully it's clear that stress influences food choices. Because at IIN we encourage you to focus on high-mileage how and why questions, let's practice this approach by focusing on the how and why of stress and emotional eating. First, how can stress affect eating habits? One, stress can affect how much we eat. Stress can increase or decrease appetite. Do you eat more or less when you feel stressed? Some people eat more, about a third of American adults in fact. Stress can make us feel out of control. Think about it. How do you behave under stress? Maybe frantic, scatterbrained, the opposite of mindful, any of these ringing a bell? If you feel really stressed out, how do you think you might eat? We often carry stress into our eating habits, right? Remember that emotional hunger tends to come on quickly and feel insatiable. Eating under stress can feel out of control. Cookie Monster comes to mind. Stress also increases cortisol levels in the body. Studies show that high cortisol reactors, people whose cortisol spikes more in response to daily stressors, tend to snack more in response to stress than low reactors. Stress can motivate eating even if we're not hungry. Remember, emotional eating is about emotional hunger, not physical hunger. Then again, some people eat less when stressed or skip meals altogether. Anxiety can actually suppress appetite for some people and anxiety and stress often go hand in hand. About 30% of American adults report skipping a meal in the past month due to stress, and most of those adults report doing so due to lack of appetite. Whether due to lack of appetite or lack of time on a go, go, go schedule, a chronic state of stress can dysregulate hunger and health promoting eating habits. Whether a person eats more or less is a matter of bio-individuality. Two, stress can affect what we eat. This is pretty straightforward. When stressed, we often want foods high in fat and/or sugar, fast foods, snacks, and calorie dense comfort foods. Stress can increase the desire for pleasurable and palatable foods. Carbohydrates increase serotonin, a feel good hormone, and when we eat emotionally due to stress, we eat to feel better. Ta-da! Chronic stress might even alter reward and motivation pathways in the brain, leading to more cravings for such foods. The result? Weight gain, irritability, poor gut health, guilt and shame, isolation, and so forth. Though our ancestors might have relied on rich foods for survival, food is now more readily available to most of us. Therefore, our desire is not based on metabolic need, it's based on our emotional hunger for foods that we use for comfort, control, or distraction. Three, stress can dysregulate appetite and hunger signals. Lack of sleep is a common chronic stressor. Sleep deprivation can dysregulate hunger by increasing appetite and the desire for higher carbohydrate and higher sodium foods. Plus, lack of sleep doesn't lend itself to positive emotions. Putting it all together, lack of sleep may drive us to eat emotionally because we feel all out of whack and can't connect with what our bodies actually want. Use your own experience as a guide here. How do you feel when you don't get enough sleep? I, for one, feel more irritable and my appetite is hard to figure out. To recap, stress can affect how much we eat and what we eat, and it can dysregulate appetite. Okay, moving on. Why do we emotionally eat when stressed? Well, we know that emotional eating typically means using food as a coping mechanism. We use food to help us manage stress. To keep this huge topic simple, here are three ways to think about it. One, food can comfort us. Contrary to popular belief, people don't always eat emotionally to help cope with tough feelings. Emotional eating can in fact be a response to positive emotions or connections. I'm pretty sure you've been there, whether it's eating foods that remind you of a loved one or eating foods to celebrate or connect with others. Emotional eating can mean honoring a memory or relationship. It can feel fantastic and it doesn't necessarily harm us. Pleasure can be beneficial, and creating space for pleasure on your plate is a positive thing. However, using food consistently and chronically as a primary form of self-comfort, for example, when stuck in a negative stress cycle, leads us away from healing. Using food to fill a void or lack in primary food, relationships, physical vitality, career, or spirituality, isn't about mindful pleasure and connection, it's about avoidance, numbness, and disconnection. Again, we've all been there and we all turn to food now and again. It's okay. Always go back to the big picture and whether it decreases overall quality of life. Two, food can serve as a form of control. While some people reach for a huge plate of nachos or sugary cereal to comfort them, others might restrict intake voluntarily. In this case, food helps them cope with stress by allowing them to have a sense of control when they feel overwhelmed by emotions and situations out of their control. This can range from skipping lunch now and then to chronic eating disorders. When working with clients, stay mindful of patterns of restriction, dieting, or rules around eating. As Joshua puts it, you can eat the healthiest food imaginable and still not be healthy. And remember bio-individuality. One person's food might be another person's poison. Grounding and portion control for person A might mean disconnection and deprivation for person B. Three, food can distract us. Have you ever been at a cocktail party and spent the evening refilling your plate because you just needed something to distract you from the boring conversations? Many of us can relate to this. In fact, 33% of American adults who report overeating or eating unhealthy foods due to stress say that it helps to distract them. Whether at a boring dinner party or in a stressful work environment, we've all used food as distraction. Maybe we come home after a rough day and spend hours snacking on the couch. Maybe we keep a bag of lollipops in the car for long drives with a relative we can't stand to be with. These are all situations in which we eat emotionally and therefore disconnect from ourselves. When listening to clients, think about whether their eating habits keep them stuck in a negative stress cycle or whether they simply serve as one of many helpful ways to cope. Let's pause here for a few minutes. Grab your journal, hit pause, and spend three to five minutes jotting down how you have, either in the past or currently, used food to help you cope through comfort, control, or distraction. Hi again. Was that helpful? Did you notice any patterns? Okay, let's finish this up. Now that we've explored some common relationships between stress and eating, let's use the stress eating cycle as a guide for understanding the emotional eating cycle. Here we go. As a refresher, a negative stress cycle goes something like this. A stressor triggers a negative emotional response as well as beliefs or thoughts, often judgments about that emotional response, which leads us to react with a maladaptive behavior which affects us negatively, physically and emotionally, which in turn increases our stress and so on. The emotional eating cycle is pretty much the same cycle, but the maladaptive behavior is emotional eating in particular. For example, overeating can lead to feelings of guilt or shame, low body image, and feelings of sluggishness, laziness, and irritability. And what do we do when we feel the stress? We emotionally eat, and the cycle continues. This cycle is a tangled web. The emotional eating loop that we discussed earlier in the course, trigger, emotion, eating behavior, is a little more straightforward. However, the loop emphasizes the habit aspects of emotional eating, while the cycle emphasizes the role of stress, it adds in a new variable. We're presenting both the loop and the cycle as two slightly different ways of conceptualizing emotional eating because both stress and habits play important roles in the big picture. And we want to keep encouraging you to look at this material with a wide angle lens based on what resonates with you. Does that make sense? We'll sum this up in the recap handout so you'll have that as a visual. For now, let's wrap up by touching on how you can support clients with this information. Part of coaching around emotional eating is helping clients recognize when food serves as a helpful coping mechanism and when it actually increases stress. Quite often, the food used to cope with negative emotions ends up causing more negative emotions. Let's use an emotional eating cycle example. I get into a heated argument with my partner, I feel angry, and I feel frustrated that I let my anger get the best of me. I dig into a chocolate bar to calm me down. And last but not least, I feel guilty for eating my feelings and now I have a stomach ache. In the end, my coping mechanism ends up causing me more stress. It's hard to step outside of coping strategies like emotional eating especially when they become automatic habits. As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, you can provide the flashlight that helps clients see what they can't see on their own. You are the observer seeing the big picture from the outside, while recognizing small patterns that clients are too stuck in to see themselves. The bottom line in this lecture is that stress and emotional eating are intricately linked and coaching is all about helping clients make those connections. That's all for this lecture. Are you ready to practice this material? This week, sit down with a coaching partner, a family, friend, colleague, or course mate. Ask your partner to think of an example of when he or she felt stressed out and used food to feel comfort, to feel control, or to feel distracted. Practice using high-mileage questions to explore things like: How did they feel after using food to cope? Did they notice any patterns between particular stressors and food choices? How do they usually use food to cope with stress? And why did they choose one method over another? For example, why did they choose to self-comfort versus distract? You can find this practice exercise in the Skill Building Activities section of your Learning Center. Send out any insights to the Facebook group, making sure to keep your partner anonymous, and compare the experience your partner shared to other experiences shared in the group. And finally, share this information with someone in your life who might value it. Be sure to take a look at those handouts and share your discoveries in the Facebook group. Until next time.

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Duration: 13 minutes and 27 seconds
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Language: English
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Posted by: integrativenutrition on Aug 30, 2018

Connect Stress and Eating_Final

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