Waking to the news about the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, this morning reminded me a lot of September 11, 2001.
My responses were somewhat different, but prior to both tragedies, I had received sad news about death and loss impacting me and those close to me in quick succession. Just this week, two families I know lost babies and other friends experienced other losses. With social media, I was also exposed to the losses of friends of friends. In 2001, I had been to four funerals in just the few months prior to 9/11. Today, the sky is gray and it matches how I think many people are feeling.
When we are stressed, we tend to reach for sugary or fatty foods. It is kind of a natural craving, but it doesn’t mean that it will help you manage your stress. While we may be most tempted to cheat on our diet plans when we are stressed or grieving, it might be the worst time to do it.
When you are stressed, you need as much physical energy as possible to support your strained emotional and/or mental energy (depending on what stressors you are experiencing).
Mental stress and emotional stress can actually drain your physical energy, making it more difficult to do everything. For many people experiencing depression, it is difficult to even get out of bed. When you are stressed, your body needs the highest quality food you can provide it to ensure it’s running as efficiently as possible.
Not only do you need to be eating healthy food when you’re stressed, but it’s likely not a good time to be reverting to old habits.
Last night, I had dinner out with three wonderful friends. We weren’t sure if what I was ordering was entirely gluten free, but we figured any gluten was minimal. I was willing to take the risk to reach for comfort food because I do not have celiac disease; I have chosen a wheat-free lifestyle for my health. After just a few weeks of avoiding wheat and gluten though, my sensitivity to it is now obvious. Cheating on your diet plan might taste good, but it probably won’t make you feel good.
When you are feeling emotional or are under a lot of stress, the last thing you need is to be feeling fatigued or bloated or distracted by other physical symptoms. While it is extremely tempting to cheat on your diet when stressed or grieving, doing so might actually make you feel worse and make everything more difficult, including emotional healing.
Today, if you are feeling distressed by the news of the tragic shooting in Colorado or any other stressors specific to your life, consider being more stringent in your food choices, committed to your exercise plan, and focused on taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally.