Friday, August 27, 2010

Aug. 27: Stress and Dieting

I've written a lot about what not to eat when your stressed out.  It's been a pretty constant theme - don't dive into the ice cream, cookies do NOT make you feel better, french fries will not cheer you up.

But this week, while I was offline, I had a stress epiphany.  It really isn't something grand that I've discovered because of complicated scientific research, or a divine message from an angel delivered on a mountaintop amidst a herald of angels blowing trumpets all around me.

Stress is basically an illness.

I've had a headache for nearly a month.  I've been bitchy (like scary, badass, mean bitchy) because of it, nauseous because of it, and lethargic because of it.  Finally I broke down and went to the doctor because I simply couldn't take it anymore.  The feeling of the headphone at work touching my ear hurt so much I was seeing dancing spots in front of my eyes.  I left work and went to the walk-in clinic, where, luckily, my doctor was working that night.

I explained the headache to her and pointed out the area at the back of my neck, near my left shoulder, the point from where the pain was radiating.  She gently laid her had on it and I almost threw up from the pain. 

She asked, "Are you under any additional stress lately?"

Hmmmm.... "Well, I'm racing with the bank to see if I can sell my house before they foreclose on it, I hide my car so it doesn't get repossessed and my ex husband thinks now would be a perfect time to take me to court for custody of my little girl.  Oh yeah, and I hate HATE hate my job.  I'm a bit stressed."

She clucked her tongue at me and said, "Look what you have done to yourself!  You are one big knotted muscle - why did you wait so long to come see me?"


Anyhow, to make a long story at least a little shorter, she prescribed something for tension and a muscle relaxant to take before bedtime.   She also told me not to worry so much.  Gee, that's a great idea!  Okay!  I'd like to tell you I have returned a much calmer and less worried Daisy, but alas, I'm still a basket case.

However, I learned something.  Stress must be treated like any other illness.  If you child was sick, would you feed her a big bowl of Cool Ranch Doritoes with salsa for supper?  Would you decide that an entire pizza might settle his/her little stomach?  Perhaps the entire container of cookie dough ice cream would help the dear child recover from the flu more quickly.

It's doubtful.  You'd cook up the most nourishing soup possible, chock full of vitamin-laden vegetables, lean protein and healing herbs.  You might make a fresh fruit platter for him to nibble on while he rested on the sofa.  The glass of orange juice would be bottomless, as you constantly pumped vitamin C into your little darlin'.  You would want to aid in your child's recovery by giving them the most nourishing, delicious REAL FOOD you could provide.

Perhaps we should consider "treating" stress the same way.  We should nourish ourselves with delicious vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and decadent fruits.  We should pamper ourselves as though we are trying to recover from the flu, feeding ourselves instead of depriving ourselves.

A time of great stress is not the time to go gangbusters on your diet.  It is the time to treat your body kindly and take the effort to heal yourself through eating wonderful food with a great nutritional profile.  Don't deprive yourself and cut your calories to the bone - dieting itself is stressful on the body and fighting off cravings is hard enough when your state of mind is excellent and focused.

NOW, don't read this and think, "Cool, Daisy said I should pamper myself - I'll get two kinds of ice cream!"  No, Daisy said, fill up with nutritious delicious things, and aid in healing yourself through the vitamins found in healthy foods!  Daisy said, don't try to starve yourself and stick to a no-carb monastic diet of water and plain tuna.

This is all just a personal theory - as I comment frequently I'm not a scientist and I have no degrees in anything health related. But it really makes sense to me that now is not the time to add extra pressure to my load, lest it all just flatten me into a bloody patch of roadkill on the highway of life.

I'm SO GLAD TO BE BACK!  I missed you while my computer was at the computer spa!


  1. I love that. That is a really great way to think of it. As a stress eater, I need every thought process possible to overcome it. Thanks for this!!!

  2. Blubeari ~ Welcome! I have stress eating issues too! I've found journalling really helped me to overcome it - most of the time!

  3. That's a great way of looking at it. I often think of what I would do if I were mothering myself - would I treat myself any differently? Often I find that I would, and checking in in this way helps me to make better decisions that are more nourishing and positive. I like how you are looking at stress as an illness that needs to be treated as such. It's true!

  4. I totally agree. I deal with stress very poorly and as a result I have way too much of it. I think since we all suffer we consider it something normal that we HAVE to go through, but it's such a serious and potentially debilitating thing we should give it the attention (and treatment!) it deserves!!