Want some MizFit on yer thursday? Im talking exercise & caught on security cam. over at JackSh*t‘s place.
Before you go, however, please to enjoy some Stephanie.
I’m honored and flattered to be sharing the same site as the tenacious Miz F.
I’m an admirer for many reasons.
Her quirky, funny writing style. Her determined attitude. Her fly tats. Her fitness accomplishments, of which there are many. But most of all, the fact that she discovered intuitive eating all on her own – and committed to it. In a society inundated with fad-of-the-moment diets and plastered with ads for comfort foods, that’s not such an easy thing to do. I didn’t figure it out until I had my Master’s in Clinical Social Work, had read Geneen Roth, and spent six months seeing a holistic nutrition counselor.
You might be thinking I’m a little slow. I am, with some things. But there were a few other factors at play. Namely, I was stressed as all getout – I was working in psychiatric units – and I was hooked on sugar.
Of course, the two create a feedback loop. You’re stressed, you binge, you feel awful and more stressed and you binge again. I was addressing things from an emotional perspective, but understanding the biology behind my cravings really gave me a leg up when it came time to quit. So I’d like to use this post to reach out to all of you who find yourself reaching out for the cookies, candy, soda or alcohol a little more than you’d like to.
The feedback loop I was referring to before is emotional in nature, yes, but it’s also physical.
Here’s how it works. Eating sweet things and refined grains spikes your blood sugar. After it spikes, it drops. In order to bring things back into balance, your body craves more of what spiked it in the first place.
You may be familiar with this cycle. But did you know that blood sugar also spikes when cortisol spikes?
Every time your adrenals squirt that fight-or-flight hormone – in response to stress, caffeine, and even lack of sleep – your blood sugar soars along with it. Makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. When our ancestors excreted cortisol in response to an emergency, such as running from a saber toothed tiger, they needed fuel to run, hence the blood sugar rise.
But today we’re getting cortisol surges from office politics, traffic jams, and financial woes, just to name a few…not to mention our daily cup (or three) of java. That means when your boss chews you out, and your fight or flight kicks in, a blood sugar crash is soon to follow. It’s a setup for weight gain.
So how do we approach stress eating? I mix and match from my toolbox, which I’ll share with you below.
EMOTIONAL. A stress reduction practice is IMPERATIVE! Whether it’s deep breathing, meditation, a walk outside, yoga, a good cry, hitting a punching bag, chopping wood, screaming in your car….the list goes on, and each time you get stressed may require a different approach. I see emotions much like urine and feces – they are accumulations of toxins that simply need to be excreted from the body! Take care of yourself, and get your stress out.
NUTRITIONAL. Protein: your secret weapon for stabilizing blood sugar. I know when you’re anxious you want to reach for a cookie, but the refined carbs will only make things worse. Try a handful of pecans or some homemade beef jerky. Yes, I’m serious…it’s easy to make! And while you’re at it, don’t forget that going too long without eating will also cause your blood sugar to drop. Here again, a small snack of protein will work wonders.
HERBAL. Food is medicinal. Herbs are even more potent. People who haven’t tried them are often skeptical, but remember that our ancestors were using plants as medicine for thousands of years before the allopathic approach entered the picture. Sometimes a tincture can touch stress when nothing else can. There are many calming and grounding formulas from which to choose. I am a fan of WishGarden’s Deep Stress and Sleepy Nights, but your local health food store will have plenty of options. Consult with a practitioner to find the right match for you.
Now, before you click back to Facebook, your spreadsheet, or on to my blog, stop.
Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Feel your feet on the floor, and your hands on your lap.
Soften your shoulders, your scalp, your face muscles.
One more time, sensing the breath traveling all the way up and down your spine.
Feel that sense of relaxation flooding your body?
There you go.
You may now return to your regularly scheduled day. Don’t forget to breathe.
Stephanie Small received her BA from Yale University, her MSW from Smith College School for Social Work, and her Certificate in Nutrition Education from Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts.
In 2008 she founded www.threesistersnutrition.com, a phone-based practice helping women create a positive relationship with food. She happily blogs on holistic approaches to weight loss, nutrition, recipes and food politics for www.9weightloss.com.