Hey there hormone sister. I am going to let you in on a secret. I’ve struggled with emotional eating for most of my life. I learned at a very early age that eating calms me down, so I eat when I’m angry or mildly unhappy. On the other hand, I don’t eat when I’m going through something really rough like the loss of a loved one. It all depends on the type of stress.
Two Strategies to Deal with Stress or Emotional Eating
There are two strategies I use to deal with stress eating. One is very practical and quite easy, and the other is deeper, highly individual, and takes a longer period. One you can implement right away and the other you can work on over time. Wherever you are with this it is perfectly okay—you are where you are. Let’s talk briefly about where you can start with both of these strategies.
1. Bulk Cooking for Emotional and Sugar Balance
The first strategy is something that works well for me. That is, having tasty, nutrient dense food available on a regular basis. I’ve been working on this strategy since I turned 50. When I have yummy meals already prepared, it takes the grunt work out of finding something healthy, cooking it, eating it, and then spending an hour cleaning up after a single meal. I might as well just eat PB & J. Let’s face it, when you’re dealing with hormones and heavy emotions, who wants to go to all that trouble every darned day, three times a day? Make-ahead meals are the easiest and best strategy to help me prepare for my week. It works for stress eating and helps to balance hormones by providing me with individualized portion controlled meals.
Get these 2 free resources on my website that provide you with bulk-cooking strategies:
The latest Nutrigal ebook: Bulk Cooking for Beginners
The Nutrigal Mason Jar 10 Day challenge
Now, before I dive into the next strategy, let’s take a look at why you might be eating in response to stress. Please be gentle with yourself while reading this because it’s not your fault that your hormones are imbalanced or that you are experiencing stress. Most likely, no one sat you down at 20 or 30 years of age to tell you how to manage stress in a healthy way. What is more likely, if you are in your late 40s, is you are dealing with extra familial stressors, none of us anticipated, such as aging parents and young adults in University.
We eat in response to stress, why? Because persistent, unmitigated stress causes:
- Strong sugar cravings—this is not just in your head but an actual physiological response.
- Lower thyroid function—effects mood, metabolism and digestion.
- Sleep issues—fatigue makes everything harder, period.
- Decrease in Serotonin—your happiness hormone, also linked to sugar cravings.
- Lower levels of Leptin—the hunger hormone that controls appetite.
- Blood sugar imbalance causes massive fluctuations in energy and food cravings.
- Sex hormones decline—leads to a host of other symptoms that leave you feeling worn out.
For more information, you can watch a number of my videos on stress here.
Please let yourself off the hook. Stress or emotional eating is NOT YOUR FAULT.
The physical response of imbalanced hormone levels may include strong sugar cravings, inappropriate hunger cues, insulin resistance, fatigue, and disrupted sleep. The emotional response can be just as disruptive. It may include quick anger or crying at the drop of a hat. It’s important to understand that these emotional responses are not your fault. It’s a very personal decision as to how you want to navigate this change. But one thing is clear…
2. Learn to Listen Your New Body – Loving it Every Step of the Way
Your body is changing and it really needs loving attention from you. To accept that your body is changing is the first step. You are not defective, weak or broken. You are however, changing. This means your strategy of maintaining balance must also change. My fellow hormone sister, Shirley Weir founder of Menopause Chicks posted the best quote from Socrates the other day…“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.”
It makes sense really. It’s like learning a new technology. At first, it’s crazy frustrating and sometimes a bit scary. It takes persistence to learn but hopefully we don’t beat ourselves up when we can’t learn it overnight. We work at it little by little. We practice, ask questions, get support and continue to learn. Once we master the technology, it can change so many things for the better.
When your body changes and you experience symptoms like stress eating, weight gain, or sleepless nights, the first thing you can do is accept it. Accept that your body is changing. Accept that you need to adopt a new way of being in the world. But how do you love a body that feels like it’s betraying you? Well, you can look at it like this. If you had a four year old who, for whatever reason was having a temper tantrum, you wouldn’t scream at her or call her horrible. As an effective parent, you would try to communicate with her in a loving way. You would have a dialogue with her after the fact to set some boundaries, or try to understand what she is really trying to tell you. The same is true with your body. Your symptoms are your body’s only way to communicate with you. Are you opening up a dialogue? Are you being loving and kind? Are you taking the time to listen? Are you setting some loving boundaries?
When you learn to work with your new body the rewards will be both physical and emotional. Stress eating will decline when you start to listen to the messages of your body. Learning the right way to work with your new body can be frustrating at first but only because you haven’t yet figured out your strategy. Once you learn what works for you the rewards will be amazing. But you must learn the skill. It takes a bit of time but it is completely doable and so much better when learned with other women, who like you, are just as confused and maybe even a little frightened.
I honestly believe when we carve out time for ourselves we can be fully present with others. Make peace with where you are. You are not broken, you are not wrong. You are a woman in transition that could use a little support.
If you are staring at this page and wondering what steps you need to take next, I am here to help. As a women in peri-menopause myself who has dealt with grief, illness, adrenal burnout, and serious bouts of depression and anxiety, I want you to know that I GET IT. The reason I opened up Nutrigal was to help women deal with the transition of life using gentle coaching, nutrition and science. It is also the reason I developed my hormone-coaching program called the Body Beautiful Program. If you are ready to make peace with your body, and are looking for the rewards of energy, sleep, and weight loss, the time has come. Registration is happening now and you can book your free discovery call here.