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difficult consumption

bowl of pasta with red, green, vegetables and mushrooms

difficult consumption

I do find that after very stressful days, or very stressful events in your life, it is really difficult to settle enough to consume snacks – dinner in this case.

What to do if you can’t eat?

1. Call a friend

2. Breathing exercises to turn off the ‘fight or flight’ response…

-breathing in for four seconds, then holding for four seconds, then out slowly for four seconds, forty times, and this seems to have world, hehe, since dinner is on.

3 Comments
  • Glenda @ Healthy Stories
    Posted at 23:43h, 16 January Reply

    Hi Sarah. I agree that there are times when eating can be a bit tough, but you’ll normally find that there are a few things that you can still eat almost regardless of what’s going on emotionally, you just need to work out what those things are for you. I can eat a very plain oat porridge with just a touch of brown sugar, or a piece of toast with a little butter/marg at pretty much any time, or if desperate some water crackers. It may take a while to get through them, but I know I can stomach them when I can’t eat other stuff. If you learn to listen to your body you can find some ‘safe’ foods that will work for you when things get tough – they may not be perfect, but they will get you through until things settle. xox

  • Sarah James
    Posted at 20:06h, 19 January Reply

    Hi Glenda,
    It is so nice to hear from you 🙂 Thanks so much for your comment, oh it REALLY means a lot to me! I like this idea of having these ‘staples’ that you can fall back on, when you are feeling stressed out. I learnt something a while ago about our nervous system, how we can either be in ‘fight or flight’ OR ‘rest and digest’ I can’t remember the reference now, but it basically said that if you ARE stressed out, all the blood moves away from your stomach, and you can’t digest properly? Have you come across anything like this in your neuroscience studies?

    That is why, when I am so embroiled in flight of fight, I can’t touch anything – food wise. It would be GREAT if I could fall back on a piece of toast, or some crackers, and I SHOULD try this, but it is not a nauseating feeling, it is just an inability to touch food.

    I sometimes think this is where eating disorders may come from at their core. What do you reckon?!? So, I utilise the method of ‘talking’ to people, because it calms me down and gets me out of the fight or flight zone and into ‘rest and digest’, gets the blood flowing back towards my stomach, at which time I can eat a lovely appropriate meal for that time of day 🙂 How about you?

    It is interesting, but this page is not designed to be about PSYCHOLOGY as such, it is about nutrition, although, do you think there are behaviours and psychology associated with food too, especially when being articulated in terms of eating disorders, periods of chaos or stress?

    I will try your suggestions next time! Another thing that is useful is to taste and touch food. To play with it, with your hands, to get all those neurons in your stomach ready to consume 🙂 Lemon juice in water can also be useful, as it tells your body that food is coming, so said Deb a local Naturopath.

    It is GREAT to hear that you are still around here! I can’t believe it! How is your summer garden going? I am sorry Melbourne has been so HOT!! I hope you guys had a cool change this week, and that your garden and you are ALL well.

    Take care xxo and thanks! xxxxxo Sarah xxxxxxo 🙂

    • Glenda @ Healthy Stories
      Posted at 20:28h, 21 January Reply

      Hey Sarah. What you are talking about is the autonomic nervous system which has two major and opposing branches. The ‘fight or flight’ is the sympathetic nervous system (this one is activated by adrenaline), while the ‘rest and digest’ is the parasympathetic nervous system. Our default state is for the parasympathetic system to be in control, but then when we get an acute stress the sympathetic system is activated. You are right that this means that the blood is pumped away from the digestive tract – this is because the sympathetic system redirects the blood to your heart, lungs and large skeletal muscles (e.g. legs, arms, torso), which allows you to react to and run away from the problem. At those times, digesting food is not a priority, so we don’t normally receive stimuli telling us to eat. Of course these days our stressors are normally not so urgent or primal, but our physical reaction is the same and it can make quite a mess for us if it happens too often.

      If you are stressed and know you should eat, it’s obviously best to try to remove the stress by getting yourself to calm down. That can be easier said than done though, so the other alternative is to find ways to be able to eat while you are stressed, particularly if the stress is lasting for a while. Apart from having ‘safe’ foods that you know you can stomach at these times, it can help to do something distracting while you are eating the food. For instance, watch TV, play a game on the computer, chat to someone on the phone. Then because you aren’t paying attention to the food, and are probably calming down a little from the distraction, it can be easier to just mindlessly chew the food (even if it takes a while to eat it). I’m not really an advocate of mindless eating practices because I think it can cause most people to overeat, but like most things there actually is a time and place for it.

      Food behaviours are far more complex than we give credit for. The subject, Food, Nutrition and Behaviour was really good at explaining the many influences on our eating habits. In terms of eating disorders, I think that there are many things that can lead to eating disorders, simply because there are many different types and so there are many reasons why they occur. For instance, anorexia is mostly about body dysmorphism (thinking that the body is bigger than it is), while you can have eating disorders that spring from OCD type behaviour or even from avoidance behaviours because of personal perceptions on what is good or bad. There’s even an eating disorder called orthorexia that is about only eating ‘healthy foods’ and refusing to eat anything that doesn’t fit your definition of healthy.

      Anyhow, that’s quite a deep enough comment for today. Things are good in Melbourne at the moment, not so hot right now thank goodness. Look after yourself 🙂

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