Wednesday, July 23, 2008

No graze days of summer - Dealing with stress

Let's just say, I'm your typical Type-A personality. Relaxing actually takes effort; I'm always on a tight schedule; and I'm certainly not the most patient person you'll ever meet. As Wikipedia labels me, I'm a "stress-junkie." It's no wonder that after 30 years (give or take a few years - ok, give a few years) as a Type-A that I have health issues and it's those health issues that are prompting me to change my A-ish ways. Yeah. It's not easy. 

Since those many years ago when I was a pre-teen, food has been an issue for me. Grazing during times of stress, then, is a well-established habit. But it is one that, slowly but surely, I am changing. Our last check in was on July 10. Up to that point, I was having a graze-day about once a week (at least). For today's check-in, although I've done my share of nibbling over the last couple weeks, I've only had one graze day - that ends up being 14 days since my last graze. And while my tummy aches as a result of that one graze, I know those 14 days mean something. They mean that I'm not perfect, but then that's really not the goal. The goal, and what those 14 days really mean to me, is that I'm improving - I'm developing a healthier relationship with food and I'm relying less and less on food to heal a wounded spirit. Don't get me wrong - it would be great to be perfect and not have to deal with this issue at all, but realistically, the idea of being better than before (inner development) is all we can ever really ask of ourselves. 

Of course, inner development (this becoming a better, healthier person) isn't exactly our default mode - at least it isn't mine. It's something, I think, that can only be found in mindfulness - being mindful of how our words, actions, and attitudes affect others; being mindful of how we eat, work, and play; and being mindful of the big picture - I guarantee the big picture doesn't involve the dirty dishes in the sink. So mindfulness is what I'm relying on to deal with stress, to become that better me - by confiding in a few close friends/family, meditating, slowing down the pace of my life, learning to find contentment in doing nothing (yep, those dishes will have to wait). Honestly, I'm not GOOD at any of these things, but I'm getting better. I'm getting better at setting aside the fluff that only stresses me out so that I have time to discover the world around me, the reality of who I am, and learning to like that person (it turns out, she's not so bad).

So how have the No Graze Days of Summer been in your neck of the woods? Does stress play a factor in your mindful vs. mindless eating? How do you cope with stress when it creeps up on you (or runs over you in a semi)?


Burbanmom said...

I have fallen many times on this challenge, but I continue to get up, dust the chocolate crumbs from my mouth and move on.

If nothing else it makes me AWARE. And being aware is a very good thing. No more mindless nibbling. When that pantry door opens, my mind is an active participant!

Thanks for a great challenge. I will continue my efforts to curb my grazing. Moo.

' Burbs

Tammi said...

I had a very good week... followed by a bad one. I grazed at least once every day last week. I even would be thinking "this is grazing" while I was nibbling away. Ack!

I blame the fact I haven't been sitting down to good meals. We're having a tight month and sandwiches just don't sound good so I haven't been eating lunch then I snack my way through the afternoon. BAD ME!

I've been doing better this week. I'm trying really hard to be mindful while I'm eating and listening to my body. This is definitely more difficult then I first thought.

CindyW said...

I don't participate in any variations of cut the junk challenge, because I graze all day long. I mean all day long.

However I am trying to change what I graze - instead of cheese crackers, cheese puffs, cheese balls (notice the theme?), I try to graze fruit. It's easy in the summer. There are so many yummy berries, melons, stone fruit.

When I traveled for a month, I hardly grazed - too busy doing everything else. Perhaps I should just travel for the rest of my life just so I won't graze any more :)

Heather @ SGF said...

Burbanmom - Moo, back at ya! Glad to hear you're finding mindfulness in your daily routine. We all fall, but in the end, what this is about is becoming more mindful, becoming healthier. It sounds like you are well on your way!

Tammi - I do that too - nibbling on something all the while thinking "I'm not supposed to be doing this..." Snacking is not necessarily a bad thing. If you're hungry and don't feel up to a "normal" meal at dinner, eat several smaller meals throughout the day. Just try to be mindful about it. Even if it's just crackers and cheese, sit down, enjoy it. And take your time. Everyone has good weeks and bad weeks. Hang in there and keep the good week going!

CindyW - Actually, I agree with you. Eating throughout the day can be very healthy (especially, as you said, when you're nibbling on fruits etc). Something I'm NOT doing in this challenge is monitoring my diet. I eat whatever I want, whenever I want it. However, I have this habit of losing myself in snacking without realizing I'm hurting myself (literally because of my digestive disorder). Snacking is fine. It's the mindlessness of grazing that I'm working on - the eating without thought and without enjoyment - the "stress-eating."

I don't typically join food-related challenges either because I don't really want to deny myself anything I truly enjoy and I LOVE food. But I guess in the end, this challenge is less about food than about finding calmness when I am stressed; and not allowing myself to continue in the unhealthy habit of, as I said, "stress-eating."

That being said, do you have any secrets of dealing with stress?

Beany said...

I haven't been good about my original intentions (mindful eating), but I do think of you every time I am not mindful - so your challenge is a success?

I used to graze alot before but after removing pre-made snack foods from my weekly shopping list, if I have to graze it should be lying around already prepared.

Like burbanmom, I too am aware and guiltily continue my bad habits. But it feels soo good. Maybe I don't have the intention to be more mindful?

I've been trying to also follow your habit of eating with someone at work for lunch. I did today, and it was really nice.

Rapunzel said...

Heather, wish I could say I was doing better but no such luck. Stress is definitely taking it's toll. I am aware, though, even when I'm doing it, if that makes any sense.

Praveen said...

I can make our that you are a goal driven person - nothing wrong in that though!
Improving one self is an ongoing process - with many small hurdles and failures along the way.
Rather than finding comfort in identifying oneself with one line of thought (e.g. mindfulness, etc.) or the other, if you think of your life as a hurdle race, you will live it more constructively - the failures, weaknesses, etc. - this is what I learnt recently from a T.V. talk show. Looking at things this way gives a new meaning to everything - pitfalls and all.
Hope it helps.

Jenelle said...

I try to graze on things I need, like nuts and dried fruits, because it's hard for me to have all the needed food.
About stress, what was that meditation podcast you recommended?

Heather @ SGF said...

Beany - I was so used to eating alone that it was a real surprise to me how much more enjoyable it is to eat with someone else. I'm so glad you found enjoyment in the company of another!

Rapunzel - makes perfect sense. I do the same thing.. "I shouldn't be doing this but I don't seem to be stopping. Hmmmm...." Stress really plays with us, doesn't it. I hope you find some peace soon.

Praveen - Thanks for the pep talk. I like the mental image of the hurdle jumping. I'll have to meditate on that a bit. Thanks!

Jenelle - the two podcasts I listen to are the Meditation Podcast and Meditation Oasis. I love them both. Hope you do too!

timeus said...

People EAT to cope with stress? timeus always thought that's what drugs and alcohol were for.

Heather @ SGF said...

Timeus - maybe you're right. I should grab a long island instead :)