Prolonged Periods of Stress: Why you “don’t care” what you eat & tips to cope

In the past there have always been stressful periods in life. However, over the last two years, collectively we have been experiencing prolonged periods of stress and uncertainty.

When there is a lot of uncertainty (pssst, 2 years of a global pandemic, among many other stressors outside of our control), it can be a trigger to not “care” about your eating. Maybe you’ve thought:

  • “Everything is so hard. Who cares if I eat the cupcake(s)?”
  • “I deserve to eat what I want because, what’s the difference? I’ll get back on track tomorrow anyway.”
  • “Things are so stressful, so I deserve to eat the pizza because it’ll make me feel better.”

When I was battling food, many of those thoughts would enter my mind during times of stress and uncertainty. The challenge was, when I followed through with feeding the craving, it made me feel worse and more stressed. Not only was I stressed about what was happening externally, I then felt like I was failing, was weak and couldn’t keep it together to reach my health, weight, and wellness goals.

What I didn’t realize at the time was the food was a symptom of feeling unsafe and uncertain in other areas of life. It wasn’t really that I was lacking willpower or discipline. And, while feeling like I “deserved” the food felt innocent in the moment, the insatiable hunger and onslaught of negative self-talk that ensued afterwards was exhausting.

What was a game changer for me (and is for many of my clients) was getting to the bottom of why I was eating out of alignment with my goals to begin with and using the Truce with Food tools. That has allowed me to become aware of the pattern so I can bring curiosity to figure out the cause of my unaligned eating. The clarity and awareness were extremely freeing so I could realize that some of the risk I was feeling was sometimes perceived and not real, which was helpful so I could choose how I wanted to react or show up in certain situations/circumstances.

Realizing uncertainty is a trigger enables me to bring compassion to myself, and the clarity of knowing why it shows up tends to shift things. So no more, “I can’t believe you ate that. You’ve failed again!”

Here are some things I do to care for myself in prolonged periods of stress, which also help my eating because I don’t end up as depleted:

  • Strategically and intentionally minimize work when I can that doesn’t directly impact my clients and their success
  • Be gentle with myself and take space and time where I need it
  • Speak to those I trust and who can hold space for me to share what I’m experiencing without trying to fix things
  • Ask for help if/when I need it

Sometimes your body really does need the food physiologically (e.g., carbs for energy), and other times you’re really craving a sense of physical, psychological, or emotional safety. It’s helpful to be able to discern what your body needs when so you can nourish it with what it’s really “hungry for.”

I’d love to hear from you! What works for you during periods of prolonged stress? Leave a comment or send me an email at [email protected].

And, if you’re in a period of stress right now and are finding it challenging to stay on track with your eating, I’ve got you! Get on my calendar for a Curiosity Call and we’ll discuss if Truce with Food can also support you through this stressful period!

About Laura:

Laura is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and holds a certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). She has supported over 120 clients who know what they should be eating but have a hard time sticking to it by helping them identify the familiar patterns keeping them stuck so they can radically transform their relationship with food.

Laura is a facilitator of the research-based Truce with Food® process, which helps clients achieve sustainable results by getting to the bottom of why they fall off track and aren’t able to remain consistent. She’s also the creator of the self-paced course, “Behind Your Cravings” and the creator and facilitator of the free, online Behind Your Cravings Community.

After successfully losing 60 pounds and working through her own emotional relationship with food, Laura’s mission became helping others get to the bottom of their self-sabotaging patterns.

Laura coaches clients one-on-one, in small groups, runs workshops, speaks at summits and conferences, and has been featured in Voyage Chicago. Laura can be contacted at [email protected].


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Chicago, IL 60657

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