Stress Overeating


Stressed I get Sally Squires’ column in the Washington Post emailed to me each week, so that’s one reason I refer to her work a lot on this blog.  The other is that she definitely covers topics of interest.  Not always in the way I’d like to see them covered, but that’s not unusual!

Her column this week had to do with stress and eating.    I was particularly taken by this excerpt from her article:

Nyers gets up at 3:45 a.m. and begins her commute from Southern Maryland at 4:45 a.m. She doesn’t get home until 12 hours later.

I know it’s easy for me to say because I’m no longer a part of the rat race, but a schedule like that, well…the person interviewed for this article is talking about how she gets the urge for a sweet snack in the middle of the afternoon.  I think she deserves one if that’s what she wants!

Before I get any strong reactions to that last comment, let me say first that it’s generally accepted that a carbohydrate craving in the middle of the afternoon in itself will not make or keep anyone fat.  Usually there’s a lot of ‘stuff’ surrounding that snack that leads to overeating when it happens, and it’s not necessarily the stress of work or long hours (I’m really talking about attitudes and beliefs that get in the way of us eating what we want in moderation).  Plus, I’d love to see what the rest of that person’s day looks like in terms of eating.  Is she eating enough?  Is it balanced?

But it’s likely the bottom line really has a lot to do with what Sally has identified – a stressful lifestyle that would create problems for most of us in terms of eating and probably a lot of other things, too!

One of the things I dearly wish for my children is that they don’t get caught up in this stereotypically American lifestyle.  Even if they have to move elsewhere to avoid it.  It’s plain just not good for us!

5 responses to “Stress Overeating”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sorry I just glanced over this blog so I don’t really know much about you, what do you mean when you say you are “no longer a part of the rat race”? What do you do? Also, what type of lifestyles do you advocate instead of the stereotypically American lifestyle? I’m just curious because I’m sort of a staunch opponent of the mundane American life (even though I’m currently stuck in it) so it’s refreshing to hear any like-mindedness!

  2. marsha says:

    Hi, I actually have worked as a writer/consultant out of my home in Vermont for much of the last 15 years, although I have also worked at Green Mountain (the ‘owner’ of this blog) which is only 10 minutes from my home. Prior to that, I lived in New York City and did the whole commute/long hours thing. What I propose instead is that we as a society really examine the lifestyles we are expecting ourselves to live, and start putting a priority on living now, instead of working to live at some point in the future (which many of us will never reach because we’ll work ourselves to death, or to poor health if we do live to that ‘magic’ time when we can quit the rat race).

  3. Steve says:

    Hey forgot to put my name. Yes all very true! Some movie had a line like “Life passes most people by while they’re making big plans for it” (I think it was Boiler Room) and I honestly think that’s a widespread problem.

  4. Don says:

    I think stressful eating is a larger problem than what most people think. Probably most people who do it don’t even know they’re doing it.

    As for the rat racing, at least now I’m rat racing for my Clients, not some overpaid CEO…lol


  5. marsha says:

    Hi Don,

    I think you’re right — stress eating is often unconscious eating, and that’s one reason we think mindfulness is so important. When you’re mindful, you’re tuned in and aware. Helps you better realize what you’re feeling/doing so you can make choices in your own best interest.

    As far as the rat race goes, i think you’ve identified another issue, too. Working ‘for ourselves,’ e.g., our own business can keep us busier than we ever were when we worked for someone else. So it’s really up to us to decide how we want to spend our time. Sort of up to us, that is — unfortunately, we do have to earn enough to support ourselves. but often when we look at it, we spend money on things we really don’t need, so we might not need as much money as we think we do.

    anyway, could go on about this forever, i guess.

    have a great, mindful, relaxing weekend!


About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

Marsha has been a guiding force at Green Mountain at Fox Run since 1986. In addition to overseeing a professional program that helps women establish sustainable approaches to healthy living, she is a respected thought leader when it comes to managing eating, emotions and weight. She has been a voice of reason for the last three decades in helping people move away from diets, an area in which she is personally as well as professionally versed. An accomplished writer and speaker, Marsha is the author of six books, including the online course Disordered Eating in Active and Sedentary Individuals (co-authored by Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, Human Kinetics), What You Need to Know about Carbohydrates (Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics [The Academy]), What You Need to Know about Vitamin and Mineral Supplements (The Academy), and The Pregnancy Cookbook (co-authored by Donna Shields, RD, Berkeley Publishing). She has worked extensively on a national basis to educate the public about nutrition and the impact of dieting on eating behaviors, including binge eating and emotional eating. Active in many organizations helping to further the cause of health and wellness, Marsha currently serves as vice chair of the Binge Eating Disorder Association and vice president of The Center for Mindful Eating and has been active in the Association for Size Diversity and Health in support of Health at Every Size(R) principles.

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