It’s that time of the year again…. redolent of great summer brunches, long lazy days by the pool, sugary drinks, ice cream and of course chocolate bunnies and eggs. The heat is just setting in, and we are getting to the point of power cuts, restless sweat drenched nights and the resulting inertia in the morning that makes waking up such a chore, and working out close to unthinkable.
Add to that the additional pressures that summer brings. The need for a flat tummy that looks good in a swim suit, and toned arms that enable one to sport sleeveless tops. All of which have to be juggled with the mounting pressures of children who are on holiday, and need to be kept entertained and away from mischief. Is it any wonder that tempers are frazzled beyond belief? This kind of pressure is enough to make a normal human being turn to food, if not food and drink, and that’s when the trouble starts.
Perhaps one of the most common ways of coping with stress and the pressure of life is by turning to food for comfort. On the face of it, it’s not so bad. A few extra cookies once a week will hardly make any difference to your waist line, and if you restrict that binge to once a month, it will not affect you at all.
Now that we have used that dreaded “B” word, and brought it out in the open, maybe we should discuss it threadbare. A binge is when a person consumes 4-5 times the food that he or she normally would eat in a relatively short span of time. Say two hours? Typically the food that one consumes when binging is high fat and high sugar. You would have to be a rabbit to binge on carrots, right? Now as long as the binge is restricted to one meal once a week or better still once a month, you won’t have a problem. Acknowledge it as a treat that you deserve for being so disciplined for the rest of the week or month. Savour every mouthful of the food, don’t feel guilty about it, and just go back to your normal healthy diet from the next meal. If all of us could do that, it would be perfect.
Unfortunately in today’s pressure cooker environment, those extra cookies or that slab of chocolate become a kind of crutch that you can’t do without, and over a period of time they become a habit. Of course it starts with a cookie with a cup of tea when you are stressed, and slowly that one cookie is just not enough. That is simply because, when you eat a high sugar/high fat treat, it sends the blood sugar soaring, which accounts for the feel good factor; only you come down from that high fairly rapidly since the body counters this influx of sugar by releasing more insulin to metabolise it, which is what causes that rather quick slump that you feel. Of course you counter it by eating more cookies, which only makes the whole situation worse.
The best way to combat stress is by exercising it away. Walking, dancing, cleaning the cupboard or baking a cake. By the time you have whisked all your frustration into those poor eggs, you are bound to feel better and more than ready to share the cake with the family, limiting yourself to a tiny bit.
If you are one of us who feels that the only way to fight stress is to eat, then maybe you should have a fruit, or a salad and a sandwich with a glass of milk. Actually, what would be really good for you would be the handful of carrots that you stole from the Easter Bunny.
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