You’ve walked into the kitchen probably 10 times in the past hour looking for food, just grazing. Each time, you’ve grabbed a snack–a bag of chips, cookies, maybe you tried to mix it up and have some healthy fruit–and before you know it, you’re over-stuffed, uncomfortable, and thinking about how horrible your body is going to feel later.
What does overeating have to do with anxiety? Well, it’s actually linked in a couple of ways. Often times, when people are having anxiety attacks or have feelings of nervousness or anxiety, they tend to comfort themselves by eating–it gives them something else to think about, something to do with their fidgety hands, and overall, something to control. On the flip side, however, anxiety could be a SYMPTOM of overeating, as a lack of proper nutrition and an unhealthy weight can actually lead the body to be more likely to experience anxiety.
No, I am not a nutritionist, and no, I cannot help you lose weight through nutrition planning, BUT when you combine the link between anxiety and overeating with the fact that cortisol, the stress hormone, causes bloating and weight gain, it is very possible to help with these symptoms of anxiety through managing the anxiety itself. (Don’t need to keep reading the article to know you want help with your anxiety? Schedule your free consultation now!)
Next time you find yourself walking back and forth into the kitchen and grabbing snacks, try making yourself aware of what you’re doing. Say out loud, “Am I hungry, or am I anxious?” Then evaluate your feelings. If you’re feeling fidgety, anxious, or stressed and find that you’re on your way to “eating your feelings,” sit back down, and take a different approach.
Really make yourself mindful of what you’re feeling, and try a deep breathing exercise to bring down your body’s “fight or flight” response that comes with anxiety. Sometimes just the art of being mindful of what your subconscious is trying to get you to do is enough to stop the bad habit.
And sometimes it’s not. So, when it’s not, you’ll need to find something to a. Keep your mind active and b. Keep your hands active. A helpful thing to do in this situation is to get up and get in a quick 15-minute exercise. Try going for a walk, playing with your kids, doing a short exercise video, or even just walking in place and doing some jumping jacks. Once your brain realizes that you’re busy doing something else, that urge to eat will start to go away. Drinking water in this situation helps as well, as it alleviates the body’s desire to fulfill an urge during a panic attack, and if you usually eat, your brain may want that activity simulated.
Becoming more mindfully aware of our behavior can help us better ourselves, become healthier and more peaceful versions of ourselves, and it can even bring us to a calmness that we have never before felt because we so often get lost in the subconscious behaviors that happen when our brains get confused about feelings.
Give these a try, and let me know what worked (and what didn’t) and what you’ve found to work for you in these situations.
Are you looking for more help curbing the symptoms of your anxiety and aren’t sure where to start? Schedule your free 30-minute consultation with me, and we’ll get started on a journey to tranquility, understanding, and overall mental health. You can also check out my blog for more mindful exercises and meditations!