Brain Window on Stress & Eating

plannerAs I was starting to write my assignments in my planner (all color coded) and was thinking, “oh, this might be another challenging semester–hope I can keep my food consumption under control,” I had a bit of a brain awakening: I might not be able to control my assignments or how much time I have to spend on school, but if I control my food and eat the quality things all of the time, I will feel way better, physically and mentally, and be able to better tackle the semester.

This seems very straight forward, I know. As I wrote in an earlier post, this is the first time I have been a student and also been a healthy person. I had 22 years of conditioning myself this way: lots of school work, lots of stress, eat ice cream and cereal and you’ll be able to escape from the stressful world for just a few moments. Whenever I’ve been in school, school has come first, so now prioritizing my health above my school work doesn’t come as naturally as I wish it did.

Don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t eating total crap all of last semester, but I also wasn’t eating totally perfectly. Not that total perfection is the goal, but I know I can do much better than I did last semester. On weeks when I hardly had time to sleep or get to the gym, I didn’t eat as well as I would have liked. Then, since I had already “messed up” my eating plan, I just continued down that path until there was a clear re-start (i.e. new day or new week). If I had eaten well, I would have been more energized and probably been able to get to the gym and sleep, too. When I eat stupid foods, I am sluggish, grumpy, self-doubting, and constantly thinking “how and when will I knock this stupid binge eating thing?” and am therefore not able to perform at my best level. I’ve gotta eat smart so I can get the most out of every day and enjoy every day. 

Here’s another fear of mine: after all this work in nutrition school, I’m not going to get a job if I’m still fat. If this gets in my head enough (I want to work in obesity prevention. I’m fat. Which I think is proof (?) that this is  a hard thing to beat, and that more people need to be working in it), I accept that I will be fat forever, so eat more. This is not the way it should be. Logic that one a bit further before you go buy those sugar wafers, Sarah. You can’t fully control the job market post grad school, but if you eat well, you will feel better and be more able to focus on figuring out that job situation. Don’t eat well so you’ll be thinner faster, eat well so that you’ll feel the best you can and be able to focus on what you need to focus on to be successful. That’s sound logic.

If I am motivated to eat well by the desire to be smaller, once I am smaller, what will motivate me? I shouldn’t eat well so that I can lose more weight. I should eat well because I need to be energized and feel strong so I can be most successful, and I can’t expect my body & mind to do a bunch of amazing stuff if I treat it like crap. Boom. Here’s to another semester.

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One Comment to “Brain Window on Stress & Eating”

  1. I’m hoping to have a similar shift in logic so thanks for writing it out!

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