Do you eat chocolate when you are stressed?
The good news is that chocolate can be good for you! Dark chocolate contains antioxidants. And dark chocolate (not white chocolate) lowers moderate levels of high blood pressure in older people. Today is International Chocolate Day and its fine to celebrate with a few pieces of dark chocolate.
If you tend to get carried away and eat more and more when you’re under stress, it’s a wise idea to break this habit! Emotional eating is a common response to stress. It’s an effort to change the sensations of tension, anxiety, butterflies, and discomfort. Some people mistake the feelings of tension in their stomach for feelings of hunger. And if you’re eating while you are studying or watching TV, you often have no idea how much you have eaten (“mindless eating”).
It is possible to learn self-regulation strategies that don’t involve consuming food to decrease stress sensations. To shift from too much chocolate (and chips and doughnuts and desserts and…) to more effective skills in coping with stress:
- eat more mindfully (avoid doing other tasks while you’re eating, eat slowly, and savour the food)
- learn to distinguish between real hunger and false hunger (tension around the stomach)
- and develop some relaxation strategies that relax the tension in your body and around your stomach.
To help you get started, check out the programs coming up at the Stress Management & High Performance Clinic this fall:
- Relaxation and Stress Management Skills Training
- Better Sleep Program
- Decreasing Headaches (for tension and migraine headaches)
- Stress Less for Tests
- Stop Worrying!
- Diet, Stress, and …. IBS! (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
For more information on these programs visit www.uoguelph.ca/~ksomers.
Yes, you can learn to relax your body, calm your emotions and your stomach!
It just takes practice.