Stress, Emotions and Dietary Sabotage
By Camille Gallinger, CN
Do you consistently find yourself frustrated and disgusted because your smooth, disciplined and purpose-driven eating style was interrupted by a lack of control at a family gathering or social get-togethers? Do you find yourself lost in the comfort of the noise, festivities and the various flavors of the delicious food? Maybe you reason that you will have just a bite of each food, even those that are personally offensive to your sensitive system, just to be polite, and hope that such a small amount would not cause the flare-ups and digestive distress you hate to endure. Swollen fingers, joint pain, incessant bloating, brain fog, skin rashes and general fatigue are the price these foods usually exact when you eat one too many of them. Worst of all is the guilt. It’s the guilt you feel when you’re experiencing all the pain, the itching, the gastric upset and the malaise. You might even feel that there is little hope of staying on course until you’re well again because you have faltered in this way before.
Maybe you think you simply have no will power or that the cravings may be the problem. I would encourage you not to think this way but to rather consider the possibility of unresolved issues as an underlying factor of dietary sabotage. Sometimes the triggers are obvious-
immense stress on the job, family tensions, finances, studies, and relationships. Sometimes it is a little harder to detect because it is an unhealthy mindsets of perfectionism, of victim-hood, or of co-dependency (needing the approval of others) that is causing an ongoing stress and triggering tension that may be undetected until someone can recognize it and help you work through it. Sometimes the food and fun can be such a distraction from noise in our head or such a release from the tension that binds us inside. But it is only temporary. It is the beginning of a cycle that can occur time and time again as long as food serves as the antidote to long-term inner discomfort.
What can be done? Many functional medicine practitioners, functional nutritionists, and health coaches know the effectiveness of emphasizing mindset shifts. They gently help clients and patients think strategy rather than defeat. If I notice that a client is deeply perfectionistic, I am going to encourage her to refocus and aim for excellence rather than perfection, which is unattainable.
This gives her a break and makes it much easier for her to bounce back from dietary setbacks and eventually make consistently good food and nutrition choices. Another client might repeatedly soothe his inner aches with dairy and gluten disguised as Haagen-Dazs and Dunkin doughnuts, despite a diagnosis of SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). I might endeavor to help that client insist on not seeing himself as a victim but rather courageously, find help to design the kind of life that he wants. It might take prayer and meditation along with some new actions, but it is worth leaving behind the thoughts that constantly take him to offending foods for comfort.
We do not always realize that we have mindsets that are constantly sabotaging our progress. It happens to the most disciplined and determined because LIFE HAPPENS and can take you off guard, especially if you do not have the understanding support of someone who has the heart and skill to help lighten the stress response. Resolving underlying stress may not always be the final key for everyone but in most people it is one of the major keys and is worth courageously exploring. I would like the honor of helping coach you through the challenges so you can regain your vitality.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12 NIV