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Stress eating
Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2019 4:04 PM
Joined: 2/27/2019
Posts: 9

I am under a lot of stress at work. Living life can have its stressors. And, of course, there’s my mom who has dementia. Today it was all too much and I started stress eating. Again. I am gaining weight. Depression and stress keep me from working out consistently. But I just HAVE to pull myself together.
Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2019 4:19 PM
Joined: 7/12/2017
Posts: 1744

If yo can do any kind of exercise, do it, even little bit.  If you can get out an walk do it.  Use that stress and clean your kitchen, feel hungry from stress, get some gum...I know it hard, but you need to take care of yourself FIRST.  Breath, get some sleep and then move your bod...
Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2019 5:12 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 3621

I needed a higher dose of Paxil when I was caregiving so I could cope better.  Prayer and Paxil were what helped me most.  gentle hugs.....caregiving is very hard.
Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2019 5:22 PM
Joined: 10/24/2018
Posts: 1258

Oh FirstKid (me too!) I hear you I hear you! I stress ate the same 30-40 lbs on and off for a few decades, and then got a dx pf pre-diabetes... that was a wake-up call for sure. I found a way of eating that keeps the health under control, but you know what? I still stress eat, just not sugar/carbs. So I am right in that boat with you. (but have easily, without trying, lost 30 lbs since last October and 40 in all since a year ago). So losing weight is in your grasp, but I can't help you with the stress reaction! Gubblebum's exercise suggestion is one I would second-- when my mom moved to my town in MC, I added Barre and ballet classes to my schedule as something for just me. All good... but fitting them in is stressful in itself! D***** if you do and d***** if you don't. 

VKB's prayer is also top on the list. 

Take care of you! Hugs

Posted: Sunday, September 1, 2019 6:58 PM
Joined: 11/16/2018
Posts: 69

Sorry for the late reply, but I'm in the same boat entirely. I can't handle the stress of my mother's ALZ and the existential crisis that came with it. I've been stress/depression eating/drinking for a number of months now, and I feel like I'm spiraling inward. I just moved to a new area, so I just started with a new naturopath to try and help, but depression doesn't not tend to make one an optimist, so I'm just trying to control everything as best I can and not do too much damage before figuring out how to unspiral, as it were.

I totally hear you about how depression makes it feel impossible to workout. Depression is a giant weight that presses down on every part of my body, it feels like, so the last thing I feel I can manage is a workout. My solution? Coffee and the promise to myself that I don't have to do the workout well or even completely, I just have to do something, anything, for at least 5 minutes (or 4 minutes, or 2 minutes, if the depression really has a strangle-hold on me). And then I give myself some ridiculous reward for barely working out for 5 minutes, like and hour of trash TV. Point is, I get myself, eventually, into a routine, and the workouts get longer. But, yes, I have to coddle and cajole myself into it almost every time. Once I get the rhythm going, it gets easier. The eating and drinking don't stop, but at least I feel like I'm counterbalancing it somewhat (until the next inward spiral, but still, any progress is good progress).

Sorry for rattling on. I think I'm mostly just trying to encourage myself at this point because I'm afraid of the eating and drinking to get out of control. I'm thinking of trying to find a therapist who specializes in existential crisis, because essentially what I have is a complete loss of hope. Don't get me wrong, I have an amazing life and a loving family, and we're so lucky to have each other for both ourselves and for my mother, but what ALZ has done to our family and my parents' loving 50+ year marriage is just too much for me to wrap my head around. I am angry beyond words, and I need to find a specialist to, I don't know, help me put all this in perspective??? I'm not sure what I need at this point, but obviously food and booze are not it (not like I ever thought they were). 

So, again, I hear you and feel you, FirstKid. I know what it's like to be weighed down so much that all you can handle is raising that tasty [whatever] to your mouth in the hopes that you can feel some relief for a few minutes. And I know how hard it is to do the healthy things, like working out, when your entire body feels like electric lead. At one point in my life, I was so flattened by depression (long before my mother's ALZ), that I wrote on a piece of binder paper: DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING. and threw it on the floor by my bed (that I couldn't get out of) where I could see it. I'd get up and put away one dish, and go back to bed. Later, I'd get up, and put one sock in the hamper, and go back to bed. Eventually, I got myself functioning again, one dish, one sock, one minute, at a time. Now, with my mother's ALZ, I'm having to do the same thing. 

If you find any solutions to your situation, please come back and post. I'd love to hear your tips and tricks. Good luck! We can do it!

Posted: Sunday, September 1, 2019 7:03 PM
Joined: 6/24/2012
Posts: 574

It's good that you are aware of the stress and depression.  First step in getting help is knowing what to get help for.  Good luck.  

I spent a lot of time in denial of being depressed.  Now I am just 'dealing'with it the best that I can.  Yes, watching the weight and trying to get as much exercise as possible.  But some days the spirit just isn't willing.  


Posted: Tuesday, September 3, 2019 9:23 PM
Joined: 8/14/2019
Posts: 20

Sorry to hear this. I can relate. My husband and I are struggling with it. 

We keep reminding ourselves that our health is important, too. I hide healthier snacks for us at GMIL's house so we don't make bad impulse choices. I now take a bus or train to get to the in-law's and walk a 1 1/2 from the stop to their house. So at least I'm getting a little exercise even when I'm there. And I just don't keep any temptations in my house. 

Exercise and healthier eating can help with depression. But I completely get it - it's a vicious cycle. It's tough to break it. There are some TED Talks on Youtube about habits that we found helpful.

It IS hard. Hang in there. You are NOT alone.

Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2019 7:23 AM
Joined: 3/8/2018
Posts: 814

I’ve always been a stress eater (and an exercise slug too). That sugar bump to my brain is delightful. Here’s some things I’ve learned:

 If it’s not in the house, I can’t eat it. I try not to buy anything I know will be a trigger for me

I don’t buy my favorite brands or flavors of ice cream. Boring flavors = eat less of it. 

That post-holiday 75% off candy sale at CVS? Pass. No matter how long I have it, I’m still going to eat it. 

Out of sight, out of mind: if I do cave and buy some treats, after the first one, they go into the freezer. Amazing how I’ll often forget about them.

I discovered that if I eat something emotionally satisfying and pleasurable at dinner, I stress eat less in the evening. (Corn has been amazing this summer)

I snack on Honey Nut Cheerios. Yeah, carbs but not too awful

And I’m not always on track. After a bad day, or upsetting incident, I will say “I want this cookie” (and maybe two. Or three.)

Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2019 4:23 PM
Joined: 6/3/2019
Posts: 83

I have a suggestion - just that, a suggestion - that has worked for me since around last New Year's. I've lost about 20 pounds and so far kept it off. Intermittent fasting. You skip breakfast and lunch and basically just shorten the window during which you eat each day to around six or eight hours total. What this does is enable your liver to burn off its store of glucose so that you don't have the constant up and down insulin roller coaster, which is what happens when you eat all day long. At some point, you switch over from burning glucose stored in your liver to burning fat. You can't do both at once, it's one or the other - and if you're constantly putting small (or large) amounts of food into your system, you keep spiking your insulin, and you keep feeling hungry (especially if you're eating carbs and sugars). Dr. Jason Fung on youtube explains this much better than I can, if you care to look it up.

 If you're still interested and reading, here is how I go about it day to day. In the morning, you just have coffee if you like it (black, no lightener or sweeter - that's food) or tea or green tea in the morning, and I also like to have 16 oz glass of water with a tablespoon of Bragg's apple cider vinegar and a shake of cayenne pepper right when I wake up (I don't "need" coffee anymore by doing that, but sometimes have half a cup anyway) - and then you just go about your day and don't eat, don't think about eating until 2 or 3 or 4 o'clock. If you're not eating during the day, you don't get hungry, in my experience. I didn't think it would work, and didn't believe it until I tried it, but it does. You can ease into it gradually by just pushing breakfast back a half hour, an hour, etc. over the course of a few days or weeks.

If you have medical condition such as diabetes, heart trouble, etc., I wouldn't do it without medical advice and supervision, but Dr. Fung is a nephrologist and has had success reversing type 2 diabetes through fasting.

When it is time to eat, anywhere between 2 and 5 pm, depending on my work/schedule or when I start to actually get hungry, I start with something with some protein and no/low carb like a hard-boiled egg, some nuts, or my favorite celery sticks with organic peanut butter, and then if need something more before dinner I'll have some fruit or a cup of golden milk (whole milk with pepper, turmeric and honey), and basically try to keep away from carbs by eating carrots and hummus or something like that. Just keep to no-carb or low-carb until dinner.

Then I just have regular dinner, with not much thought to portion control or carb-control, and it's usually our main meal of the day, so I don't feel like I have to particularly limit in any way.

The great thing about it is that by limiting that window when you eat food and knowing that there are certain healthy things you really want to eat every day (a balanced dinner, carrots, nuts, fruit), you basically crowd out the possibility of eating junk. And once you kick the sugar and carbs and realize how good you feel and how much more energy you have for work, caregiving and everything else, you don't want to go back to that constant cycle of eating all day, worrying you're eating too much, feeling famished and going back to the closet for another few crackers - I lived that way for 50 years and still slip back into it some days - but I feel like I have found something that is actually incredibly easy to maintain and hope to eat this way the rest of my life.

Just sharing - it might or might not work for you or sound appealing, but I love it.




Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 6:54 AM
Joined: 4/3/2019
Posts: 257

I gained a lot of weight from stress eating and drinking too, and I made some small changes which are helping, and I feel better- I try to tune into how food makes me feel and how it affects me.  I do ok with activity since I have a dog, but I also realized I need to make time to just walk by myself once in a while.  Some of the things I've changed:

@Loving Awareness-  Great tips. I have heard other friends raving about the same thing you're doing and I've made similar dietary changes. 

1. I cut out coffee- I love coffee SO much, but my way of consuming it was with a hefty portion of half and half.  I now do green tea or warm water with lemon juice and a dash of cayenne -it is so good for your system and gets your kidneys going.  

Breakfast used to be an egg and cheese sandwich, I recently switched to granola and yogurt- I like the KIND brand because they have granola with flax seeds and it's not too sweet.  I think carbs in the morning made me tired and grumpy.  I eat full fat yogurt or make my own, and it's so delicious.  

2. Stopped buying juice . . . this was a hard one but I feel better for it.  Reading sugar content on labels helped with that. 

3. I'm in the process of breaking up with my true love, BREAD! I bought a baguette to go with the soup I made yesterday and I'm already regretting it because I'm so bloated.  And pizza, how I love thee, but  . . . . boundaries are needed.   And, why is gluten free bread so expensive??  

4. I've been trying to cook at least 3-4 times a week, and include lots of fresh veggies.  I like roasted chickpeas with tomatoes, zucchini or summer squash "au gratin", baked eggplant parm (no breading and frying).  I also keep boiled eggs in the fridge so I can always add that for extra protein.  

5. I do a nightly "shot" of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar- really seems to do wonders for my skin and digestion.  

And of course, stress contributes to increased levels of cortisol, which among other things, makes us hungry and crave carbs. Sometimes when I'm super busy, I literally have to schedule in my exercise times- even a reminder like "do yoga before bed" helps me- and sometimes I might only last 5 mins, but something is better than nothing. 

Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 6:57 PM
Joined: 8/5/2018
Posts: 22

I absolutely understand! Mom (who has advancing AD) has been with me for a year and a half, and the stress had me eating and drinking way more to cope. I finally rallied the strength to speak to my doctor and seek therapy. I am now on Lexapro for anxiety (I know depression comes with different difficulties) and seeing a therapist every other week, and I cannot recommend it ENOUGH! It has been a life saver in helping manage the constant turbulence of caring for Mom. Of course, one of the medication's side effects has been weight gain, but with my anxiety under control, I can better fight the urges.

Please do NOT hate yourself for stress-eating to cope. We have to do what we can to get by each and every day, but a good primary care doctor who will work with you to find the right meds and a therapist to talk to can really help. I highly recommend it.

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2019 7:14 PM
Joined: 4/7/2019
Posts: 136

This is tough because sometimes the stress can be so crushing that it just stops you dead in your tracks.  And at the time, stress eating can feel so good.

I've had to work my way through this as well.

I'm thinking about trying intermittent fasting - I have a couple of friends who are doing this and it's working well for them.

Right now I'm doing ABCs - no Alcohol, no Bread, and no (processed) Carbs. When you go grocery shopping, you shop around the perimeter of the store where you'll find vegetables, fruits, meats, and some dairy products.  All of the processed stuff is in the center of the store (where you don't go), and if you don't see it, so you don't buy it.  It was rough at first, but after the first month it got better.  And it was then that I discovered the wheat bloat. I'd never given it any thought before, but after not eating anything with wheat for a month, my stomach felt empty. It wasn't that I was hungry, I wasn't, it was the interesting feeling of being empty. And that's when I realized that the emptiness was lack of bloat. That feeling definitely surprised me.

I couple that with going to the gym. It's not always possible, but I do the best I can.  And if I can't because I'm stressed out about something with my sister, I give myself permission to miss, and I don't beat myself up about it.

And my therapist is worth her weight in gold. I wanted someone who had experience with caregivers and with Alzheimer's patients, and that's what I got.

Even with all of that, I'm still stressed, and I still feel terrible about what my sister is going through, but I know I'm doing better than if I wasn't doing all of the above.