Let’s face it: most of us go through our lives holding on to stress. Day in and day out, we carry that stress along with us. Before we know it, stress has become the companion at our side during all hours of our days & nights.
Many of us live with so much stress, we simply get used to feeling overwhelmed.
Here’s the danger of living like this: any time our stress levels elevate, our body reacts negatively. This means you could be doing anything in a stressed state — eating, watching a movie, having sex, having lunch with a friend – if you’re doing it with stress, your cortisol level increases.
So what does increased cortisol in the body mean for us? The body’s response is to kick into “fight or flight” mode. The brain prepares the body to mobilize, enabling humans to allocate a lot of energy quickly in order to cope with threats and ultimately survive.
As you can imagine, this really came in handy for our ancestors during the early ages of human life. It allowed them to run from wild animals and keep their families safe. Even today in our modern age there are certainly times when this response is a critical reaction, our body’s way of equipping us for battle.
However, today we push ourselves into “fight or flight” mode when we truly don’t need to send our bodies into overdrive. We pack our schedules until we are so busy from the minute we wake up until sunset and beyond. We’re frantically attempting to return emails, rushing to work, picking up the kids and delivering them to their various activities, making dinner, packing lunches, studying, then preparing to wake up and do it all over again the next day.
Clearly, we are in a constant state of stress.
Now that you know this constant stress leads to increased cortisol, you also need to know that this repeated elevation of cortisol leads to weight gain.
So, let’s begin to take this stress apart by rethinking how we eat. When you sit down to a meal, take time to actually breathe, taking a moment to look at your beautiful food and think of all the reasons you’re grateful to have this nourishment.
It won’t be long before your stress starts to feel farther away. After a few long breaths in & out you’ll relax into a calm state, one where you can feel yourself unwind.
Now quietly check in with that voice inside and hear what it is asking for. What does your body desire, what does it need to feel nourished? What sounds satisfying to you right now?
You see, by allowing yourself to breathe slowly, you create the quiet you need to truly hear your body. You’re also allowing oxygen to flow more freely. Food becomes easier for the body to digest, leaving you feeling content after a meal.
Each and every one of us needs to eat to survive, but we take these moments for granted as we scarf food down under stress. Eating is natural and with a few small steps can be transformed into a pleasurable experience — there shouldn’t be guilt around eating!
So slow down. Breathe. Look at your food, smell it and feel grateful. Smile, laugh and savor it.
You deserve every delicious bite!