Food is a dangerous, yet common, tool that people use to comfort themselves when life gets hard in some way. The food-stress reaction is triggered by life stressors, mirrored stressors from others, environmental stressors, the list goes on…
So many address the overconsumption of food when stress takes over. The combination of overconsumption and consuming processed “shitty” food is also a common topic. But what about the people who are drawn away from food when stress reeks havoc in their lives.
There’s more to the population than overeaters, yet the overall issue of people not taking care of themselves is not the direct message.
I am one of the people who doesn’t eat when I am stressed. And it’s not like I sit there starving in front of my fridge and refuse to eat anything. It’s that even the thought of food makes me ill, food can temporarily make me feel worse and it’s not what my mind first turns to when I am in survival mode.
This has a lot to do with all of the G.I. issues I grew up with. I have always had acid reflux and a “stress stomach”. I had to go home one day in second grade when I got in trouble and felt so guilty that I made myself sick (that guilt soon died, and I became a d-hall regular).
But since I ate a highly-processed and unmonitored diet, the foods I ate usually made me feel even worse. To the point that eating highly-acidic foods like apples would leave me in tears.
So for people who don’t understand why I don’t think to eat when I am stressed, let me sum up the way my brain has evolved to survive. Whenever I get stressed, I get sick to my stomach. And growing up, eating anything during that time would bring me even more physical pain. Eating would bring me more pain. And I DO NOT like to be in pain. So I wait until the threat of pain is gone.
But, that’s not taking care of myself. It’s causing more stress to the body in the long run. And I realize that now. It’s a hard mental block to break through. A lot of my (female) friends always say they wish they lost weight instead of gain weight- from overeating- when they are stressed. But neither are good, and both are putting stressors on the body.
I think that this culture has become so “skinny-obsessed” that anything that causes any person to lose weight is viewed as “beneficial”, or at least “not unhealthy”. But losing weight due to stressors on the body is unhealthy for anybody.
Nowadays, I have a slightly better internal environment to work with, though I still feel stressor pains. I’ve eaten a whole foods diet for 3 years now, which has decreased my stomach pains immensely. But I still have that mental fear of increasing my pain through food.
So, when stress arises, I shut my thoughts out and just eat. For that short period, I don’t focus on hunger cues or body signals, because I know that they are all over the place. I stick with a strict(is) set of macronutrients and an eating schedule, and I make sure I’m getting the most nutrient-dense foods that I can.
When the going gets tough, I eat more stuff, and I make sure to take care of myself as much as possible in any way that I can, even when that means eating more food than I want to at the moment.