We’ve all done it. Mindlessly opened the refrigerator door, a vacant gaze scanning the contents … quietly searching for that perfect something. But what IS that perfect something? Is it last night’s leftover casserole? Or the chia seed pudding you proudly made all by yourself? Or that crumbs cupcake you bought earlier for the kids as a surprise that’s taunting you now? Chances are it’s none of those! Most likely its comfort we are looking for in that moment.
When we are stressed, sad, bored, lonely or scared we look for comfort. Comfort can come in many forms. The healthiest form is in resolve of the conflict… if we are stressed over our big proposal at work, then if we finish the project we take away the stress! If we are sad about a fight we had with our significant other, we can call and apologize for the part WE played, listen to their side of the issue and eventually have resolve and make up! PRESTO!! Now we are happy again. But often times resolve is not as easy as one, two, three… perhaps we are stressed over money and we can’t just magically find the answer to getting more money as quickly as we would like… the stress remains and we look for a way to soothe our discomfort. We may talk about it with a friend or loved one and get some advice, or a reassuring hug. But many of us will internalize the stress. Obsessing over it in our minds, and look for an external factor to distract us. We may surf the web, go out dancing… some of us may turn to drugs and alcohol… and others may eat.
Although eating in a time of stress can feel very comforting in the moment, it can most likely exacerbate the original problem. I know for me personally at times when I turned to food for comfort I got an immediate sense of euphoria and excitement. For a moment I was taken away from the unpleasant thoughts and feelings I was experiencing and actually felt a certain FREEDOM in letting go of my usual restrictive patterns. That type of freedom can be incredibly healthy AND liberating if done for the right reasons. However losing control and diving into a 7 layer cake face down in an attempt to escape is not the way my friends. And every time after, it left me in a pit of self-loathing. So now not only did I have the original trigger to still deal with, I had the self-loathing on top of it AND the extra lbs I may have put on! THIS IS NOT THE LAYER CAKE I HAD INTENDED!!!!
If you are however going to emotionally eat… try eating fruits and veggies! I know it may not sound quite as glamorous but they can help get you through the moment without the consequences waiting on the other side. Fruit will still give you that sugar high you may be craving but at least it’s water dense and full of live nutrients. I love to spice up my fruit, specifically papaya that is FULL of natural enzymes, by sprinkling fresh limejuice over it and adding a little pink Himalayan sea salt. And veggies are crunchy, time consuming to eat and have very little calories. And don’t forget… BOTH are great for pooping! Gotta LOVE that!
After the trigger moment has past and you back in the present moment get back to the basics! Here are 7 basic rituals to work into your daily routine.
1. Start your day off right. First thing I do every morning before I brush my teeth is drink a tall glass of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the blood of plants. It is anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti Candidal, full of live fresh nutrients and works as a great mouth wash but for your entire intestinal tract… from mouth all the way through to the descending colon.It freshesn things up and is very stimulating for your first morning bowel movement. It’s the first thing I consume every morning. I take a few tablespoons in a tall glass of filtered water and drink it with my probiotics (which everyone should also be taking! SanaVita has an excellent daily and super strength here) I’ve been drinking chlorophyll in this ritualistic manner for the last 20 years! It’s replaced my morning cup of Joe as for me it has the same stimulating effect as coffee does both in my colon and in the pep in my step! If this is too intense for you at this point I recommend starting the day with a warm glass of lemon water. Feel free to sprinkle a bit of cayenne pepper into it, which is also stimulating and helps to increase metabolism.
2. Eat a well balanced diet. There are lots of fads out there: Atkins, Paleo, low fat, high fat… for starters try a diet that includes fresh fruit, vegetables and healthy fats. This will provide a lot of cellulose fiber that we need for healthy digestive system and the healthy fats not only help to lubricate the intestinal tract but also are incredibly satiating curbing unhealthy cravings. Not to mention great for the skin and hair as well!
3. Don’t skip meals so that you don’t over eat and find yourself pounding pound cake at 3pm in the office kitchen! Eat on as regular of a schedule as possible. I find 5 to 6 small meals a day are perfect for me. Keeps my blood sugar level through out the day and allows me to always have that next bit of delicious goodness right around the corner. If that doesn’t work for you try 3 solid meals with 2 snacks in between a day. Play around with it and consult with a holistic health counselor for extra support!
4. BE PREPARED! As a mother I have learned the invaluable meaning of these 2 words! Know who you are and where you are going and think ahead. If you know you are going to be in the car for a long period of time… bring a protein bar with you! I love quest protein bars as they have over 20 grams of protein and are still moderately low in Carbs and high in fiber. We also have amazing Paleo friendly bars at SV that I will often indulge in that I LOVE! High protein bars are the perfect snack as they are easy to carry, whip out and eat on the go without causing the extra need to pee like if you are travelling or in an all day seminar. If you do have access to a bathroom however, fresh juices and smoothies are another fabulous snack or small meal to have. Cut up veggie sticks, a smashed avocado in a Tupperware or an apple or orange are other favorite choices of mine… spruce it up with some almond butter slathered on that apple! Oh… and NUTS! Just keep them raw (& preferably sproated) and always best to put the allotted portion into a zip lock to ward off over eating of nuts.
5. Drink plenty of water!!! Clear enough?
6. Have a strong support system! We all need them! Nobody gets through this thing called life all on his or her own. Psychologist are patients themselves, sponsors have their own sponsors parents are children to their parents. It’s easy to suffer alone. What takes courage and strength is to realize when you need help and to have the balls to ask for it! Set up a strong support system around you. Tell someone what you are going through. We don’t need a TON of friends in our lives but the ones we do have should be of high quality. Surround yourself with people who care about you and your happiness and be honest with them. Really let them in and let them help support you when you are feeling weak. The ones that count will be there for you. Every time.
7. Meditation. It’s imperative to get some sleep! In order to do this we need to quiet the mind. Clearing the mind and stopping the continuous steams of thoughts worries and concerns is not easy. It takes diligent practice. Everyone can benefit from a little quiet mediation every day. Even my kids will mediate for just 1 minute when they get upset to try to calm themselves down. They find it empowering to have a tool in their tool belt to grasp onto in a time of need. I recommend starting slow. Set your timer for 7 minutes and sit quietly with your eyes closed till you here the timer ring indicating its time to open your eyes and come back. Most likely your mind will still race like wild fire in the beginning. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just keep at it and when you realize your mind is racing, try and quiet it down again. This may happen over and over again at first but as the days, weeks or months go by you will notice that you are sitting quietly with greater ease and comfort. SUPER SIZE IT!!! —EXERCISE. Personally I LOVE to exercise. The endorphins released give me the energy to face my high-powered life! Raising 2 young kids in NYC as a single mama, running a business, working with my clients and being fully present for them, being a daughter, a sister, a friend… and finding time to take care of myself. It’s a LOT!!! But exercise helps give me the GO to go out there and SHOW UP!!! Personally my favorites are spin (soul cycle in the house!) yoga and dance. Find what you love and learn to love giving it to yourself! It’s hard enough to motivate to get out there and exercise so choose what works for you rand your life style.
Learning to live life on life’s terms is a life long practice. We cannot control what happens or what people do… all we CAN control is how we react to those triggers. Managing stress during tough times and making healthier choices today will give us the tools we need help stay focused and on track during times of distress!