Do you overeat when you're stressed? Stress is a normal part of life, but too much of it can affect your daily life.
Stress is different for everyone. We react to different situations differently. It’s essential to know what tools to reduce stress works for you.
Today’s episode will answer the following:
Hello, and welcome to Fit and Fabulous with me, Dr Orlena Kerek. I hope that you are feeling amazing, fabulous and wonderful. All these exciting words that my brain has run out of.
I hope that you are enjoying life and living it to the full. We certainly are here in Spain. That sentence did not come out well, did it? We are definitely living life here in Spain and enjoying it.
It feels like spring is around the corner and I love spring here. It's beautiful. The weather is amazing in the summer. As much as I love summer, it gets a little bit hot here. I find myself having to go swimming all the time to cool down. It's fine because I love swimming.
In the summer, it is super, super hot here. So spring is wonderful. I can see that spring is not too far away. It feels like the worst of the winter is behind us.
I hope wherever you are, you are feeling amazing and living life to the max.
Today, we are going to be talking about how to stop overeating when you are feeling stressed. Before we dive into that, a few exciting things to talk about. Drum roll, please. I need to get one of those sound effect things. I'll see if I can add one in.
My website is now looking amazing. It has had a facelift and it looks beautiful. I have a new logo.
I've had a professional come and look at it and make it wonderful. So go and check it out. I want to hear you say, "Wow! It looks amazing". You can find it at [email protected]
I have also done a new gift, a little opt-in, which is "Why am I overeating quiz?”
This quiz is a little bit of fun. One of those silly quizzes that you have to answer questions. As I say fun but it's also supposed to be informative. It will help you understand why you are overeating.
Delve Into Dr. Orlena’s “Why Am I Overeating Quiz”
You can get that quiz at the top. You can see a little red bar, which says, "Take Dr. Orlena's Why Am I Overeating Quiz." There you need to put in your name, your email address, and it will sign you up for the quiz.
You will be delivered by emails and make sure that you whitelist the email otherwise, it won't arrive. You get to keep in contact with me and you get all the offers that I offer to my email list before other people
If you don't want to be on my email list, why would you not want to? You can always unsubscribe. So come and join that.
Talking about my email list. One of the things that I have been offering this week is the "Likes and Dislikes Exercise." Oh my goodness. We are having so much fun
If you haven't heard this story, the "Likes and Dislikes” exercise" goes like this. Can you imagine if you could dial down a "like" that you have, for example, eating chocolate or pretzels? I'll tell you the pretzel story in a minute. Can you imagine if you could dial that down a way bit, wouldn't it make it so much easier to stop overeating?
The flip side of that story is if you have things that you dislike, but you wish that you could like it more. For example, somebody wanted to like broccoli more. I did it on my eight-year-old son, who, for some strange reason, disliked red apples, and it is like magic.
He has the magicked away his dislike of red apples.
In the last week, he has eaten so many red apples. It is unbelievable. I promise you. I have been having this conversation with him for the last five or six years. It's about how red apples and green apples are basically the same inside.
It's not to do with the colour of their skin it has to do with what type of apple they are. He was having none of it until this last week when red apples have been his new favourite thing. He has been choosing to have them.
So the pretzel story, I did exercise on somebody. She likes to have a glass of wine in the evening. Also with some snacks, crispy snacks, specifically pretzels. She could see that that snack was not helping her healthy eating goals. She thought it would be nicer if she could dial down the desire on her pretzels.
She didn't want to touch the wine because she enjoys it and she wanted to carry on enjoying that glass of wine. So we did this exercise.
The next day she had her glass of wine and she automatically went to go and get the pretzels but she didn't finish them. She said they weren't as appealing as they were. For some reason, she didn't finish them. So in my mind, that is an amazing result.
30 minutes chatting to me. We do this thought exercise and it can either dial down a "like" that is a bit too high or dial up a "dislike", which is too high. Now, why am I telling you this? because I am going to be offering this as a service.
It is going to be called "Dr. Orlena's Magic Dislikes and Likes" exercise. This is the last week that I'm offering it for free. Next week, I'm going to set it up as a paid offer.
You can pay and sign up and we can do it, but right now I'm still offering it for free.
If you would like to take advantage of that amazing exercise, please email me at [email protected] If you're on my email list, you can reply.
Note: Since recording this podcast, I was overflowing with people wanting to do the free experiment. I couldn't keep up. I'm now offering this amazing exercise at $299. (Or, if you sign up for the "Overeating quiz" you can get a huge discount!
Let's dive into stress and how to stop overeating when you are feeling stressed.
To recap, this is the fourth in a four-part series. We have been looking at overeating.
The first podcast, which I did three weeks ago was entitled "How To Stop Overeating." We looked at that moment when you exactly overeat. That tipping point, that balancing point, that moment of desire. We have desire and we take action on that desire.
If you haven't listened to that podcast, go back and listen.
In the second episode, we talked about how to stop overeating and the fear of being hunger. A lot of people fear being hunger, and that pushes them to overeat so that they can avoid being hungry later on.
We had a look at that fear and unpack it. We thought about what was going on and ways that we could get over that obstacle.
Last week, we talked about how to stop overeating at dinner time and nighttime and we looked at the big picture. The big picture is paying attention to all four of those pillars.
Pillar one is what we eat. Pillar two is exercise. Pillar three is sleep and four is emotional wellness. All these pillars contribute to our desire to want to overeat.
I gave the example of when I was tired and had to stay up late and the next day wanting to overeat. This is a well-documented thing that happens.
It's important to make sure that the big picture is helping you achieve your goals. We also had a look at a few tips and tricks that you can do in the moment at nighttime when you have that desire to overeat.
Today we're going to be having a look at stress and think about “How can I stop overeating when I'm stressed?”
I'm going to break this down into big picture and small picture. Let's have a think about the big picture first.
This is our life. Thinking about all those things that go on. Asking the questions:
Now the first step with anything is self-awareness. If you don't notice that you are stressed, there's very little you can do about it.
One of the things that I advocate is doing a habit audit. This is a period of time where you spend looking at yourself and thinking, "Oh, I do this out of habit."
Think about all those stresses in your life. We have this interesting idea that soemthings ought to be stressful or not stressful.
A particular situation ought to be stressful. Let me give you an example. I was working as a doctor and working in life-dependent situations. I remember one time feeling very stressed when I was a junior doctor.
I had been told that there was going to be a baby who was coming in. The baby was poorly sick and needed a lot of help. I had no backup behind me. I remember, waiting for this baby to arrive. I was waiting for my senior doctors to arrive so that I had some help and thinking, "Oh my goodness, can I do this all by myself?"
What if this baby arrives and I am not up to it. Luckily at the end of the story, the baby arrived and was fine and pink.
So the story was fine, but that stress for me was very real stress. People would say, "yes, I can see how that would be a stressful situation."
Let me tell you another story. It's about my eight-year-old son of the red and green apple fame. He's very slow at the things that he does and he makes a lot of fuss. He builds things into a big thing that he can't do.
For example, he feels that dressing is so difficult. We're working on creating a thought. Getting dressed is easy and brushing our teeth is easy but he is slow.
It takes him time to do things. Not only is he slow but he also doesn't enjoy doing these things. This obviously has a clue, a cumulative effect. It adds up. So he gets out of bed later than his brothers and sisters. His brothers and sisters spring out of bed at seven o'clock. They've rushed downstairs, having got dressed.
Getting dressed only takes about 10 seconds. They're having breakfast. By about 10 past seven, they're all done and he's still in bed. So at 25 past seven this morning, he still hasn't put his shoes on. I know that it can sometimes take him 10 minutes to put his shoes on. We need to leave at half-past eight If we're going to make it to school on time.
So I can see that this is creating stress for me. I'm thinking “You need to do this more quickly. This isn't working. This happens every single day.” How can we rewrite that? On one level you might say to me, "goodness, it's just getting your kids to school".
It's not life or death" but the reality is that stress inside my body is exactly the same. There are degrees of stress. We reached this tipping point where we get the fight-flight fight or freeze response.
We're super, super stressed and we've got the adrenaline running around our body. We've got cortisol running around our bodies and all these stress responses are not good.
On a minor level, just thinking, "my son is being slow. I need to get him out of the door," that's a trickle of that stress response. It will increase my stress levels, my stress hormones a little bit.
Those stress hormones are not good for us if we have them always raised.
It's fine to have your stress hormones raised a little bit. In fact, a little bit of stress is good to get you out of the door to get you to do things.
I suspect that if I didn't have the stress of having to get my children out of the door, we wouldn't go on a bike ride every day. I can see this because we don't do it on Saturday and Sunday. So that stress of pushing us makes us do good things.
It's a little bit like dopamine and neurotransmitters that help us go and get things. Again, it's that same if we have too much of it, it's not great.
We need to take a stock and look at our lives and think, "Where am I dealing with unnecessary stress that is not helping?"
The next question that follows is what can I do about it?
What seems like a mundane thing with my son is to say, "Okay, Sebastian, we need to discuss this at lunchtime.
We need to come up with a different system. You need to be getting out of bed at seven o'clock and you need to be getting ready. You need to be putting your shoes on by quarter past eight and we actually need to make this happen."
It might be that those areas of stress are part of your family life. They might be part of your work life. They might even be the way you're thinking about things.
A good example of stress created by the way we think about things is the whole pandemic. We might be thinking, "goodness, this is all very stressful.
On one level it is very stressful but what can we do about it?
We can keep ourselves safe. We can follow all the advice that we are given. Other than that, we have to carry on with life and that stress every single day about worrying is not helping us.
An example of that is last year when we were in lockdown. I used to look at the paper every single day. I think about the number of cases and the number of deaths that we had had in Spain every single day.
So I stopped doing it and realise that that added stress is not helping me achieve my goals. The first two questions you can ask yourself are:
There are also lots of things that you can do to counterbalance the stress. Put in little habits and routines that will reduce your stress levels throughout the day.
If we look at our stress levels, it might be that we build, build, build. For example, I feel a little bit stressed because my son is delaying and being slow. Then I might get stressed about being in the traffic.
We go on a nice bicycle ride so that doesn't happen for us. You could see how I could then jump into a car and get stressed about the traffic. I could then arrive at the school gate. Then felt a bit stressed that he's late, or that he's forgotten his bag or he's forgotten his mask or whatever it is.
I could return home and think about all the stressful things that I need to do. That is building, building, building stress.
One good thing is to break that stress and say, "I'm going to allow my stress levels to lower."
This looks different for everybody. In order to think about what works for you, you need to think about the things that you enjoy. Think about the things that help you reduce your stress levels.
It might be that you enjoy meditation. If you haven't tried meditation, I recommend you to try it. Meditation may feel a little bit different and strange at first. It's a good way of decreasing your stress levels.
It is something that you need to practice. It's a bit like exercise.
It isn't something that you do for five minutes and then think, "Oh, I've meditated. That's it. Magic pill." It's something that you have to incorporate into your lifestyle. Every single day and get to that stage where you love meditating.
I would like to tell you that there is an app called the “Balance”, which I am loving at the moment. They have a year's free trial. Go, check that out. They will teach you. They walk you through meditation. They have levels for beginners who've done a little bit or more experienced people.
At the moment I am working on my meditation habit. I've meditated before. I would say it's something that comes and goes. I want to make it something that I do without thinking.
I am meditating after lunch. We have a strange situation here in Spain. My children come home at lunchtime and then they go to afternoon school. I know a lot of countries don't do that, but that is normal here. We have a break in the middle of the day and that's when I cook dinner. I think about what I'm going to cook for dinner, but it's also when the kids are at home, it can be a little bit stressful.
I use that time to meditate, to reset, have 10 minutes for myself. It's just 10 minutes, but it feels like a little oasis of calm in amongst the chaos.
It helps me to reset myself, my own batteries. Then I can turn up and help my kids get them back out of the door because they have to go back to school. We have to do the whole putting on shoes again and getting out to the door, which can be stressful.
So think about those things that work for you. It might be that you like taking hot baths. It might be that you like being out in nature in the woods or looking at the sky. It might be that you love exercise.
Exercise is another good way of helping reduce your stress levels.
Have a good exercise routine. It naturally helps you reduce your stress levels and using your body.
It doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't have to be something that you think of as a chore. The ideal is something that you enjoy, something that you like.
This is where I always talk about the upward spiral. The more you start using your body, the more you want to use your body.
For example, last year I have learned to run. If I look back a year, I had never run anywhere. Clearly, that's not true. I had run when I was a child, but it wasn't something I did regularly.
I decided whilst we were in quarantine my children needed to do a little bit more exercising. I was doing lots of swimming at the time, but my children were sitting at home doing very little. With my two oldest sons, we started doing the couch to 5k.
You start off doing one minute, two minutes, three minutes running.
Now I am running 10 kilometres. This weekend I ran 10 kilometres. I went on Saturday cause I don't have time to do it at other times. I ran 10 kilometres and I'm going to challenge myself, do a 15k run. I'm not going to do that all the time. It's a nice challenge for me.
I've also been challenged to do a hundred press-ups for seven days. Before that I could only do 10 press-ups. Now I don't do these all the time at the same time.
I think it would get to about 15 and collapse in a heap, but I do 10 and then 10 and then 10. It's a bit of fun. One of my friends challenged me to it and I thought, "I can do that".
It's easy for me to do now. If I had tried that a year ago I suspect I wouldn't even have thought that.
Doing an exercise like press-ups was not something on my radar. I've incorporated doing a seven-minute workout. This sometimes includes press-ups. It's something that I can do now.
To clarify, I do knee press-ups. I don't do those long ones which are even more difficult. Think about the physical activities that you do enjoy and build on them. They can be things like skipping or dancing. Things that make you enjoy. It could be something like yoga or parties, any kind of exercise and movement.
It might be that what relaxes you is physical touch, something like a massage or a foot rub or even a nap or a rest. Other things that are worth thinking about are engaging the right side of your brain. Those times when you go into a bit of a trance and you're doing something repetitive.
You come out thinking, "Oh, I've done 10 minutes." Actually, you've been doing something for an hour. This will be different for different people.
Things like colouring, knitting, painting, even cleaning, gardening puzzles. These are all things that engage the right side of our brain.
Another good way to reduce stress is connecting with people. I know that that can be difficult right now as many of us are still in quarantine. I haven't seen my mum for an entire year or any of my family. It seems like a long time.
Now, if you can't meet people, what you can do is chat to them on video calls. We're super lucky that we do have this technology now. So have a think about all these big picture things that you can incorporate into your routine.
At the beginning of April, I'm doing the Healthy You, Healthy Family Habits Challenge. I invite you to come and sign up, sign up. we'll start on the 5th of April.
We will be talking about some of these things and I've put together what I've called a pamper pack to think about.
What is it that you like so that you can create your routine? Start to build up some of these things, these big pictures. How to reduce stress in your life?
So step number one, think about the big picture and then step number two is to think about those tools. When you realise that you are overeating because you're stressed, you need to think about what you can do in that moment.
Step number one is always awareness. When you are aware of what you're doing, you're in a much better position than if you're not aware.
If you're not aware, you do it without thinking.
So step number one is to realise what you are doing and don't beat yourself up about it. Look at yourself with curiosity and think, "Oh, I see this is what I'm doing." Think of those as golden learning opportunities. Then have a think about how you can make it more difficult for yourself and you can do instead.
It's all about you planning and realising what you're doing at that moment. Also, thinking, "How can I make it more difficult?" It might be that after dinner, you have some chocolate because you feel stressed. You could make it more difficult by not buying the chocolate. You could also think of something alternative to do like going for a walk.
I'm going to go for a walk for 20 minutes with my partner, with my children. By the time I get back, that desire to overeat the chocolate has disappeared.
You need to come up with some tools that you can use in that moment.
I hope that was helpful. I would love to hear what your tools are, what you think triggers you. I would like to know some of the things that you can do that you find useful to stop overeating when you're stressed.
Please email me and let me know. If you're in the Facebook group, then come and share them there. The more community we can build up there, the more we can help each other out.
Have a fabulous day. I look forward to chatting with you again next week.
Wouldn't it be amazing if you could dial down your cravings for certain foods?
Or increase your like for healthy foods? Wouldn't that make healthy eating so much easier?
Well you can! In just 30 minutes.
Alea didn't like blueberries until she did the Magic Likes exercise. She was eating them and enjoying them by the end of the call!
Tory stopped eating pretzels after she did the exercise.
Find out more about Dr Orlena's Magic Likes and Dislikes Exercise.
(Psst... if you sign up for the "Overeating quiz" you can get a huge discount!)
Dr Orlena Kerek (MBChB from the University of Bristol, UK) trained as a pediatric doctor. She is now a family health coach. She helps busy mums who want to feel amazing by eating healthy food. So they can enjoy a healthy life, get back into their honeymoon shorts and teach their kids healthy habits. All without thinking about it.
If want a healthy family and healthy lifestyle without having to think about it. And you'd like help, book a 30 minute "Healthy Life Roadmap" call here.