Stress levels have increased, and like many other risk factors contributing to Type 2 diabetes or heart disease, we are now exposed to many more stressors than previous generations have been.
Stress has a way of affecting how we eat. It can seem to take up all the space in our brain; cause us to crave unhealthy foods, and makes it easier for us to eat more than we should. Diseases such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes thrive off of stress …
- it weakens our immune system and
- accelerates the production of pro-inflammatory cells, which is the under basis for most diseases.
Breathing is a free, healthy way to reduce stress and help us settle our thoughts down before deciding to eat. Research shows “mindful breathing” may help reduce stress by lowering negative reaction to repetitive thoughts, which sets mindful breathing apart from other reliable stress-management approaches (Feldman et al., 2010).
Taking yourself out of stressful situations is ideal before eating, but sometimes we are placed in eating situations where we do not always feel comfortable. Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth a few times can help calm you down before eating any meal.
Stress makes us lose control of our emotions. Eating in this state of mind can be self-destructive because the food is often used as the comfort source. Allow your mind and body to settle before each meal, and you will be able to make clear, concise decisions, such as …
- when to stop eating, or
- which foods to eat.
Eating our food slowly does not just force us to think about what we are eating; it also slows down our digestion. Our body tells us when it is full but if we are too distracted by stress or other emotions we do not always receive these messages. That is why it is important to start eating with a clear and focused mind open to any messages or feelings you may encounter along the way. You may find after a few bites you are not hungry at all, or you do not particularly enjoy what you are eating. If this proves to be the case, make sure you check in with yourself to find out what your needs are at that moment.
A simple solution to most problems. No one has ever regretted stopping to take a few breaths before encountering something, especially something they struggle with. These breaths do not have to make a scene …
- they can be done quietly and be unnoticed if you are in public.
- try closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths right now. It should feel relaxing and hydrating, especially if you are lucky enough to be eating outdoors where you can inhale some fresh air.
On the inhale, clear your mind. Think only about the air entering your lungs. When you exhale, blow out the stress and negativity from your body. Feel your heartbeat calm down, and your anxiety lessen. Once you have a clear mind, it is time to enjoy your food the mindful way.