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NOT eating due to stress

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Old 06-30-2010, 10:07 AM   #1
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Default NOT eating due to stress

I have been having a really hard time this week. Serious stress in my life that is pretty much out of my control.

I have read about people, even known people who were so stressed they didn't eat. And I am wondering why I can't be like that. I mean, I KNOW "not eating" is not a healthy response but part of me wishes I had that reaction, because I would weigh 120 by now.

How come some of us want to EAT when we are upset while other people lose their appetite? I wish I could figure this out. It is a battle for me right now not to eat to calm myself. In fact I chose to allow myself 2 cups of coffee this morning (with cream and sugar, which I swore off ages ago) because I honestly felt like I couldn't FUNCTION without it. Three hours of sleep and I do not get along well. I am trying VERY hard to stay otherwise on plan. I want to lose my appetite when I am upset instead of being hyperfocused on food. I am going to TRY to use exercise as stress relief and find a happy medium with the eating.

Anyone relate?
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Old 06-30-2010, 12:22 PM   #2
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I so understand. I am having to deal with some completely major stress right now and I SOOOO want to eat bad things. I thankfully have been able to talk myself out of it each time it happens, but man...I too wish that I had to just remind myself to eat, not not eat.
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Old 06-30-2010, 12:36 PM   #3
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I find that there's a threshold, for me, on stress eating. On the one hand, dealing with more everyday stresses, even a lot of them, can make me want to eat more. Things like job stress, financial stress, etc that tend to be more chronic, regular occurrences - that's my danger zone. Then there's super-stress, like deaths, job loss, moving, and getting married, that make me lose my appetite. I remember the first time this happened (wedding), and I was so perplexed. Me? Losing my appetite to stress? Impossible!

I have wondered if that threshold stress level might vary between individuals. Some people may have a low stress level where eating becomes difficult (those for whom more everyday stresses will trigger a reaction to not eat), and others may have a much higher one (for whom even larger stresses will not cause that reaction).
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Old 06-30-2010, 01:24 PM   #4
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For me it's the sleep thing. If I'm sleeping enough, it's easier to control my eating; if the stress is making sleep difficult then I want to eat more. I think I tend to lose my appetite under spikes of stress, but I don't in response to daily stress. I'm having a stress-spike right now, and honestly the only reason I will really be eating regularly today is because I know that I need to. I'm hungry, but I just don't feel much like eating; food isn't of interest. I wish that food helped, but it just doesn't anymore. (Did it ever? No, not really.)
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Old 06-30-2010, 01:48 PM   #5
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I am so sorry to hear that there's so much stress in your life. As for food and stress. It's what alot of us do....we are 'eaters' Remember, however, one moment of comfort from food will ultimately make you feel bad in that area of your life.

Try some deep breathing, meditation cd, or moving. Sometimes it helps. Also helps to write down your feelings...it can be a real catharsis. If those feelings bubble up again...write it again even if it's the same exact thing you are dealing with.
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Old 06-30-2010, 01:59 PM   #6
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I am totally with you because I do the same thing. I too and going through major stress right now , things are out of my control and I long for the comfort I had in life when things were calmer when I didn't have the worry ,fears and heartache with what I am going through . That comfort feeling in my mind is connected to food. But I tell myself sugar, fat and grease won't help me at all. The comfort feeling will only last as long as I am chewing and then I will be left to feel full, bloated, and guilty. I CAN'T control this stress but I CAN control if I let myself turn to food. I have found putting in the ipod and doing things around the house or going for a walk to be a good distraction.

You and your family are in my thoughts and I hope things lighten up for you soon. HUGS!
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Old 06-30-2010, 02:06 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by mandalinn82 View Post
I find that there's a threshold, for me, on stress eating. On the one hand, dealing with more everyday stresses, even a lot of them, can make me want to eat more. Things like job stress, financial stress, etc that tend to be more chronic, regular occurrences - that's my danger zone. Then there's super-stress, like deaths, job loss, moving, and getting married, that make me lose my appetite. I remember the first time this happened (wedding), and I was so perplexed. Me? Losing my appetite to stress? Impossible!

I have wondered if that threshold stress level might vary between individuals. Some people may have a low stress level where eating becomes difficult (those for whom more everyday stresses will trigger a reaction to not eat), and others may have a much higher one (for whom even larger stresses will not cause that reaction).
Mandalinn, thank you for seeing the pattern and reporting on it. You've just explained my reaction exactly and I've always been a bit puzzled why stress only sometimes results in the loss of appetite instead of craving the comfort foods. You are dead right, it's the level of the event that changes my body/mind reaction.
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Old 06-30-2010, 02:16 PM   #8
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Last year when I was going through my strees, I had about two weeks where I didn't eat very much at all and lost 8lbs but then it switched and I ate and smoked and I couldn't get it under control. It was sleep thing, I was using so much energy to keep it together and I wasn't sleeping because all I could think about was the problems and I was so negative.

I'm only now, almost year later getting back to normal (I've had more than once stress point this last year and that's more than enough), sleep properly and being able to exercise and control myself when it comes to eating. I've been doing these before bed yoga moves from Women's Health to help me relax before going to sleep.

I think if I'd only had one thing to deal with it would have been okay but things just keep piling on this past year.

So yes, I've had it, sleep is the most important thing in my eyes to keep us on the straight! I hope things get easier for you soon.
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Old 06-30-2010, 03:13 PM   #9
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Yeah, for me a horrible situation or brief shock (like that stomach dropping feeling from a stress) makes me lose my appetite. But a longer term stress makes me want to eat (like my husband having to work late for months on end or my kids having been naughty all day, etc etc) and those are the ones I can guard against, fortunately. That is where having a predictable plan helps me a lot. I can logic or routine my way out of eating in the evenings, or when the kids are yelling. My reactions to surprise stresses are less predictable, but beyond a certain point food makes me nauseous (at least briefly, anyway.).
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Old 06-30-2010, 03:46 PM   #10
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That's very interesting and accurate about the threshhold. I think mine is VERY high. I have gotten divorced, had kids I almost lost, had family die, but the ONLY time I ever lost my appetite was when my mother died in my arms. I could not eat or drink for about 24 hours and then someone had to nearly FORCE me to drink something, but after that the binge gates were opened.
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Old 06-30-2010, 03:51 PM   #11
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For me it's the sleep thing. If I'm sleeping enough, it's easier to control my eating; if the stress is making sleep difficult then I want to eat more.
Me too, me too! I eat when I am tired because it creates the illusion of energy, and stress makes me sleep poorly (or not sleep because I am busy).

I also have this Very Bad Habit of getting into what I call "crisis mode" during times of extreme stress--like when someone is in the hospital, or jail, and I am trying to hold everything together. "Crisis mode" means that everything else is put on hold and only the crisis matters, so it's ok to eat unthinkingly or forget to pay the bills or take out the garbage or do any number of self-destructive things, because I'm in crisis--I can't be EXPECTED to do that stuff. This is a terrible, horrible pattern because then after the crisis you have all this crap to fix. It took me a long time to learn not to ever get in this mode, no matter what. It's not about whether or not other people would expect me to hold on to those things, it's about what's best for me.
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Old 06-30-2010, 04:04 PM   #12
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((big hug)) good for you for at least being AWARE of it all, all the feelings and craziness - that's a big step!! I'm one of those NON-eaters when I'm stressed out, it's horrible - it's like an actual physical lump in my throat and when i'm finally so hungry i'm lightheaded, i try to choke down food and it's so hard!!! Even the thought of food makes me nauseated when I'm stressed -- i'm very lucky that doesnt' happen much in my boring life!!

sending happy thoughts your way
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Old 06-30-2010, 04:15 PM   #13
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I also have this Very Bad Habit of getting into what I call "crisis mode" during times of extreme stress--like when someone is in the hospital, or jail, and I am trying to hold everything together. "Crisis mode" means that everything else is put on hold and only the crisis matters, so it's ok to eat unthinkingly or forget to pay the bills or take out the garbage or do any number of self-destructive things, because I'm in crisis--I can't be EXPECTED to do that stuff. This is a terrible, horrible pattern because then after the crisis you have all this crap to fix. It took me a long time to learn not to ever get in this mode, no matter what. It's not about whether or not other people would expect me to hold on to those things, it's about what's best for me.
I totally have this habit. Honestly, sometimes it just feels good to let it all collapse around me and neglect everything. Good, that is, until I have to pick up the pieces afterward :/ I'm much better about this now, and what has helped is to just rigidly stick to the few things I know work for me: Get enough sleep, exercise first thing in the morning, don't eat sugar. Repeat, repeat, repeat, day after day. When I do those three things, I can generally manage to hold the rest of it together. And if I stop doing those three things for whatever reason, just get right back to it as soon as I notice I've gone rogue.
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Old 06-30-2010, 04:32 PM   #14
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I totally have this habit. Honestly, sometimes it just feels good to let it all collapse around me and neglect everything. Good, that is, until I have to pick up the pieces afterward
Exactly. It's liberating: your whole life collapses into one single issue and everything else can go to ****. It's manic, of the "disordered thinking" type.

Weirdly, it was exposure to Orthodox Jews that changed my thinking the most on this. If you keep strict kosher, you don't eat out of an unkosher kitchen just because you're at the hospital and it's all they have--you plan ahead and you deal with it, even when it's a pain in the butt, even if your mom is in that hospital dying, because if it isn't kosher, it's not something you even consider (unless a life depends on it).

Also, I am inspired by recovering addicts. If you are sober, NOTHING is a good enough excuse to have a drink, and it doesn't matter if "everyone would understand". That's just not the standard you can use if you want to be a functional person.
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Old 06-30-2010, 04:43 PM   #15
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Weirdly, it was exposure to Orthodox Jews that changed my thinking the most on this. If you keep strict kosher, you don't eat out of an unkosher kitchen just because you're at the hospital and it's all they have--you plan ahead and you deal with it, even when it's a pain in the butt, even if your mom is in that hospital dying, because if it isn't kosher, it's not something you even consider (unless a life depends on it).

Also, I am inspired by recovering addicts. If you are sober, NOTHING is a good enough excuse to have a drink, and it doesn't matter if "everyone would understand". That's just not the standard you can use if you want to be a functional person.
Agree 100%. My mom is a recovering alcoholic, of 21 years' sobriety. And I'm a recovering sugar addict with a little over 2 years of sobriety. I don't just throw it all down and give it up and go back to the sugar when, for example, my mom is admitted to the hospital (she's very sick with pancreatic cancer, don't know how much longer she'll be with us--but she's still totally committed to her recovery)...or when my husband does the marriage-threatening stuff he is doing right now...and so on. No crisis is worth giving up my sobriety, so now I plan ahead. It IS sacred to me. OK, yeah, I'd eat a Snickers if someone held a gun to one of my kids' heads and made me do it. But otherwise, nope.

Still...I do sometimes wish that I even wanted to binge anymore...I sort of miss that coping mechanism :/ That sounds so sick, but I'm sure y'all know what I mean!
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