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Old 03-13-2014, 06:10 AM   #1
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How does one make food a non-issue?

I've been a bit obsessed with food my entire life. As an adult headed toward middle age, I've realized that I eat to calm anxiety often. I have tried doing other things to quell the anxiety. The anxiety I experience isn't from negative circumstances. I'm a very happy person with an awesome family. I get anxious over positive things; things I really want to do. Nervous energy, so to speak. Working toward the career of my dreams, as a grad student, I get to work on lots of projects and they are fun and interesting. Yes, there is pressure, but I enjoy it and thrive under pressure. The only negative thing about it is that I want to eat to calm myself down.

I've tried sugar-free gum and mints, but they make me hungrier. I exercise regularly and love it, but it's only for a short part of the day. Just not sure how to make food a non-issue. Has anyone been able to do that? If so, how?
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Old 03-13-2014, 06:21 AM   #2
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I often wish I could be more like my husband, who couldn't care less about food. Eating is almost a bother to him.
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Old 03-13-2014, 06:28 AM   #3
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Perhaps you need to discuss your anxiety with a therapist.
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Old 03-13-2014, 06:36 AM   #4
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Can you do some other things to help you calm down? Meditate for 10 minutes, skip rope for a couple, give yourself a hand massage, knit a few rows... What kind of thing would work for you?

Also, I believe in eating enough at mealtimes (2-4 per day, depending on goals/circumstances) and forsaking any snacking in between. Your mouth doesn't have to move for your brain to work! Instead of muching things, every time you find yourself mindlessly in the kitchen, drink a big glass of water. (I'll have to remind myself of this the next time I'm writing a big essay, LOL!)

Give yourself some credit, too - you're doing such a fantastic job with your studies and future career, breathe deeply and enjoy the process!
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Old 03-13-2014, 06:43 AM   #5
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Can you do some other things to help you calm down? Meditate for 10 minutes, skip rope for a couple, give yourself a hand massage, knit a few rows... What kind of thing would work for you?

Also, I believe in eating enough at mealtimes (2-4 per day, depending on goals/circumstances) and forsaking any snacking in between. Your mouth doesn't have to move for your brain to work! Instead of muching things, every time you find yourself mindlessly in the kitchen, drink a big glass of water. (I'll have to remind myself of this the next time I'm writing a big essay, LOL!)

Give yourself some credit, too - you're doing such a fantastic job with your studies and future career, breathe deeply and enjoy the process!
Thank you, Larissima! I just read an article about simply taking deep 4-count breaths often and another about some exercises to focus on relaxation. I'm going to make a conscious effort to do this.
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Old 03-13-2014, 06:46 AM   #6
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Perhaps you need to discuss your anxiety with a therapist.
I've considered that, Mistizoom; however, when anxiety is from positive circumstances, I would likely be paying a great deal for someone to tell me to undertake relaxation exercises. lol. I'm going to try to make a concentrated effort to do some simple exercises throughout the day that will help keep me calm. I'm fortunate that it's good things that create anxiety for me, and not bad. The only negative source of anxiety in my life is when I overeat, I feel bad about it. And it makes me want to eat more. lol I figure if I can just make food a non issue by calming myself through other means...it will get better. If that doesn't work though...therapy may be the answer.
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:23 AM   #7
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Take Me time for yourself...work on a project that is fun and not about your positive working areas....Take time to slow down and read something that is calming or fun (laughter is calming)...to relax you...I spend time in prayer for myself and it gives me a peaceful feeling and then I can face whatever the day brings...
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:43 AM   #8
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Anxiety is anxiety; doesn't matter the cause. And the fact that you eat to soothe it is not a positively adapted behavior. So don't discount therapy out of hand. You might be able to learn some techniques to get it under control.

Having said that, you can't go wrong with relaxation exercises and meditation. They might not fix it, but they certainly won't make it worse.
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Old 03-13-2014, 12:27 PM   #9
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It doesn't matter if the source of the anxiety is negative or positive. A therapist can help you find different methods of dealing with it that don't involve the health consequences of comfort eating. I know the nervous energy that you're talking about. When I have that, I like to slow down and read a spiritual book about living in the moment. That reminds me that all we have is the present and helps the spinning thoughts about the future to subside.
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:31 PM   #10
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I recently read a thread about eating at night. Someone simply said something like, "Snacking at night is a habit. You aren't hungry - it is a habit. You can stop that habit." Easier said than done, I know, but it is somewhat true for me. I have been working at just immediately saying, "No!" as soon as the idea of snacking at night comes into my head. If I'm truly hungry I'll get something small, but at least its more managed and not a free-for-all... Food is fuel, not comfort (if I say this enough times I will believe it!). I have a lot of anxiety, too, and have had to learn to deal with it other ways. I've found exercise to be pretty helpful. Taking a few minutes just to work at relaxing is beneficial, too.
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:32 PM   #11
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I re-started "The Shangri-La Diet" recently and I've been reading the boards (different website than LCF)a lot ..."not caring about food" is a very common result. People still enjoy their food, eat enough to feel nourished, and even crave healthier foods (veggies, non-processed foods) than they did before, but don't spend as much time thinking about food or planning & cooking meals.

Other question...have you been checked for blood sugar issues? I used to get that jittery feeling and HAD to eat bread to calm down! And a few years later I found out I have diabetes.

Another thing to look into could be your cortisol levels. Anxiety is linked to cortisol...cortisol makes your blood sugar go up...you eat, your body releases insulin, your blood sugar goes down, perhaps too much, so you need another shot of cortisol to raise your blood sugar again.

PS--the artificial sweeteners in gum & mints could be affecting your appetite or blood sugar. Perhaps you could try chewing on something like cloves, fennel seeds, or slices of ginger.
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Last edited by piratejenny; 03-13-2014 at 09:36 PM.. Reason: PS
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:38 PM   #12
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I don't have the same sort of anxiety as you but I am also a grad student, I find the urge to nibble while spending hours writing is hard to break! And lately I am finding experimenting with low carb cooking a great way to procrastinate, lol! Last night I coined an expression for myself: "Making good low carb fudge is great, but it isn't a finished lit review." Speaking of which...hanging out on the forums is great but also not a finished lit review...
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:31 PM   #13
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I've been anxious my whole life, even as a child. I still am, but a few years ago, when it was affecting my ability to sleep, or to just get through the day without getting keyed up, my doctor had me try Lexapro (I've since switched to Celexa.) For the first time I'm my life, I experienced life without a knot of anxiety in my gut, like a constant, low-level fight-or-flight feeling.

I still get anxious, but it's more manageable. For me, a hot bath and a good book can divert me. Herb tea, too, helps calm me (Trader Joe's Mint Melange is my favorite) and the above-mentioned deep breaths/meditation. Also, I remind myself now and then that life is hard for everybody, not just me. When I get wound up, I feel like I'm the only one on the planet who can't handle being a grown-up ... but man, life's just tough sometimes.
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Old 03-14-2014, 02:28 PM   #14
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You guys are awesome! Each of your replies is appreciated! The day I initiated this thread, I started doing the 4-count breaths as an informal experiment. Honestly, it has helped greatly. I exercise regularly, but haven't found it helps with the anxiety I experience; however, it does help me feel better over-all in regards to well-being.

I think I've been chest breathing when stressed. Chest breathing just contributes to a heightened sense of anxiety-->more chest breathing-->more anxiety-->chest breathing-->anxiety. And the cycle continues. The eating when not hungry was also contributing to the anxiety. Since I've consciously been making the effort to BREATHE when anxiety strikes (a surprisingly high number of times daily), it has helped immensely. I've been able to shrug off the urge to nibble and gorge at mealtimes. We have small children, so mealtime is less than peaceful LOL! So, just eating until full is a big step in the right direction. As long as I remember to breathe such that it calms me down. I'll let y'all know how it goes. I'm going to try implementing other strategies of relaxation over the next week to reinforce the breathing. Trying to make new habits.

Last edited by Skinny Train; 03-14-2014 at 02:29 PM..
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Old 03-15-2014, 06:19 AM   #15
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I too am an anxious, worry-wart. The supplement 5-HTP has helped me calm down and feel more relaxed within myself. You should look into it.
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Old 03-15-2014, 06:34 AM   #16
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Another anxious person here who uses food to calm down.

In my case, I've pretty well given up on making food a non-issue, yet I'm at my ideal weight and maintaining it. I just kind of work around the stress eating and try to keep it as healthy as possible.
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Old 03-15-2014, 08:11 AM   #17
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I too am an anxious, worry-wart. The supplement 5-HTP has helped me calm down and feel more relaxed within myself. You should look into it.
Thank you! I will look into to this!

Also, to PirateJenny for mentioning the Shangri La diet. I've never tried that, but it can't hurt. I could see how that would make one want less at meal-time. Ill see how that affects the urge to snack at night when I'm not really hungry.

Just a couple of days into this, and I'm down a pound. Ill take it. It's a step in the right direction. Before I felt like I was struggling just to keep my head above the food pile. I was binging. Not thousands of calories a day; but, eating past full, obsessing over what I would eat next, and snacking, with only sheer will making me stop. The past two days, I don't feel that way at all. Able to stop half-way through a meal just because i'd had enough. and only had a small snack instead of 5 small snacks before bedtime. Just concentrating on breathing...
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Old 03-15-2014, 10:44 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skinny Train View Post
....eating past full, obsessing over what I would eat next, and snacking, with only sheer will making me stop. The past two days, I don't feel that way at all. Able to stop half-way through a meal just because i'd had enough. and only had a small snack instead of 5 small snacks before bedtime. Just concentrating on breathing...
AWESOME!!!
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Old 03-15-2014, 05:51 PM   #19
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I too am an anxious eater, especially in the car. What works for me is chewing gum, I know you said it didn't work for you but it helps me. I also use Rescue Remedy for anxiety, and have some medication when it really gets bad. I try to focus on doing something else like exercising, cleaning or something to get my mind off whatever is making me anxious. It's been hard on the low carb diet, but just keeping busy helps me. I see a therapist/psych regularly and that has helped me deal with anxiety as well.
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