New to Whole30: Question Regarding Stress/Over-Eating


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Well I suppose my first question is how I'll introduce myself and make this post worthwhile. I am a few months shy of 27 years old, active but have always been a little down and out regarding my diet. I ate the 'healthy' way with good grains, low-fat dairy, etc but was remaining pretty much the same weight even though I began training super hard (I applied to be a firefighter in my city - of which I passed the physical but was not accepted in the long run). That was when I knew I had to make a bigger change.

I am on Day 24 and feel great and I'm excited about the benefits I've already seen take place.

My question is in regards to what I've been reading about in the book It Starts With Food. I've also read it all over the internet that with stress comes over-eating. Now you might tell me stress and anxiety are different, but for me they are pretty much the same thing. When I'm stressed, it causes me anxiety. So, for that matter, why is it that when I get stressed or anxious my body is absolutely turned off by food? I have the feeling of fullness, like that uncomfortable stuffed feeling, along with a hunger pain. Then, when I try to eat, because I know I have to in order to survive, I get nauseous and feel like I couldn't possibly eat anymore. Two years ago I had a horrible anxiety attack, or maybe it should be called an episode or a session, that lasted for almost 3 months. Essentially in that time period I was wasting away because I probably consumed maybe 500 calories a day from force-feeding myself (of course it was crappy food: high calories in the smallest package was what I was searching for so I could not get turned off eating too quickly). I got to the point where I almost fainted while sitting on my bed. While this didn't drive me to go eat, I sought help and was fed a super high calorie protein smoothie (the camping kind) and the comfort of family. I didn't come off the edge immediately but it was a turning point for sure.

I suppose I'm asking a few things. First of all, why would my body react this way when it is stated that when a body goes into that fight or flight mode, cortisol makes you hungry (okay, that's paraphrasing obviously)? Secondly, has anyone else every had this same reaction to stress and food? I feel like so many resources offer me ways to prevent the stress over-eating when in fact I need to find ways to stress eat.

Also, in case you're wondering, I haven't noticed a significant difference between my mood/anxiety levels while being on the Whole30 compared to not. I am going to continue my medication, because as you can read, it's safer for me.

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I am familiar with people not feeling like eating when they are stressed or depressed, but don't know why it happens. I got skeletal back in 1989 when I went through a divorce. I didn't notice that I wasn't eating, but then saw pictures of myself at a party and was amazed at how skinny I had become. I started seeing a therapist soon after that.

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My personal and total unscientificky opinion is that there is a difference between stress and anxiety but that stress can cause anxiety and it's anxiety that casuses a low appetite and nausea. When I was at uni I was totally stressed trying to cram for a difficult course, work part time and hold together an ailing marriage, I stuffed my face on all night study sessions and nibbled constantly. However, as it got near the exams, anxiety kicked in and I couldn't face food and felt nauseous at the thought. If stress is constantly causing you anxiety that's a horrible problem to have to deal with and I really hope you get enough help to get it sorted out.

Obviously I totally agree with continuing your medication. If anxiety is interfering with digestion, digestive enzymes may help (they did with me). as did making my meals as attractive as possible, taking my time eating them, doing nothing for about 15 - 30 mins afterwards and drinking ginger tea. I really hope you get it sorted and wish you all the best.

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