Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Tips to avoid stress-induced eating

September 28, 2011

Q: I recently read an article about dieting and mindful eating. Can you tell me how I can incorporate this into my everyday life? Sometimes I eat due to stress, and I know I am doing it, but how do I approach this from a different point of view?

A: Eating to combat stress is a pitfall for a lot of us. However, mindfulness practices are ideal for avoiding this obstacle. 

Natalie Garvey D.

Natalie Garvey D.

Our bodies are hardwired for survival. When you spend prolonged periods in an alert or stressful state, the body is flooded with toxic stress hormones. Physiologically, when you eat, your body activates the branch of the central nervous system associated with relaxation. When you eat to combat stress, your body is seeking this “calming response” through eating as a way to alleviate the toxic hormones. However, the danger is that you are not eating because you are hungry and you are most likely not aware or mindful of what you are eating. Therefore, it is important to look for alternative solutions to turn up the volume on your inner tranquility amid the stress. Instead of turning to food, you could try the following:

–Become aware of your breathing. Pay attention to how you are breathing and begin to slow your breath, counting to four as you inhale and exhale. Physiologically, this will activate your body’s calming response.

–Stand up and stretch. Lift your hands above your head and then bend over to touch your toes; forward bends also provoke a relaxation response in the body.

–Take a 15-minute break and go for a walk outside. Notice the sounds, smells and sights around you. This will orient and activate your mindfulness senses and potentially distract you from the desire to reach for the “munchie” foods.

When exploring how to apply mindful practices to eating, remember that it simply refers to cultivating present-moment awareness. If you are hungry, notice how it feels in your body and decide what you need to eat. Eat without distractions so that you can be aware of the whole experience. Be aware of when you feel full.n

Natalie Garvey D., M.Psych., is an eight-year resident of Costa Rica. Recognized by the Costa Rican Professional Psychologists Association (4496), she dedicates her professional time to accompanying others on their paths to self-discovery and healing. Send your questions to natalie@innerbalance.co.cr.

You may be interested

Some 34 million jobs lost in Latin America due to pandemic
Business
3339 views
Business
3339 views

Some 34 million jobs lost in Latin America due to pandemic

Carlos MANDUJANO / AFP - September 30, 2020

The two aspirers for the presidency of Costa Rica, the evangelical preacher Fabricio Alvarado and the former minister Carlos Alvarado, reach the closing of the electoral campaign for April 1st with a technical draw, according to a poll disclosed this Friday.

CureVac launches second stage of vaccine clinical trials in Peru and Panama
News
21360 views
News
21360 views

CureVac launches second stage of vaccine clinical trials in Peru and Panama

AFP - September 30, 2020

The German pharmaceutical company CureVac announced that it has started Phase 2 clinical trials of its experimental vaccine against Covid-19,…

Costa Rica mired in difficult internal negotiations regarding agreement with IMF
Costa Rica
902 views
Costa Rica
902 views

Costa Rica mired in difficult internal negotiations regarding agreement with IMF

Marco SIBAJA / AFP - September 30, 2020

Costa Rica is immersed in difficult internal negotiations as it seeks an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to…