Lesson: Do not use food as a relaxation tool

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Holidays are just around the corner.  With so many stressors in life today, this is the time to take some time for yourself….and find out what truly relaxes you.  Whether you find it relaxing to read, write, garden or do yoga, the key to a healthy mind and body is alleviating the stress that can so easily cause both physical and mental breakdown.   The Mayo Clinic reports that practicing regular relaxation techniques can improve how you physically respond to stress by slowing your heart rate, lowering blood pressure, slowing your breathing rate, increasing blood flow to major muscles and reducing muscle tension.  Plus, adequate relaxation will alleviate emotional responses from anger and frustration.  In my work, I have seen how relaxation can thwart overeating.  Stress is a major factor in overeating and it’s certainly a big cause in today’s society.  So find your own quiet corner, where you can recharge your batteries and smell the flowers along the way!


  1. Start a daily relaxation ritual.   Have a “YOU-dulgence” once a day to relieve stress.  For example, your daily ritual could be visualizing you in your favorite vacation spot or enjoying a walk with your pet or listening to your favorite music with your eyes closed.  The best part is no one else has to know — there’s no planning, organizing or texting involved…’s about me-time, and that’s it.
  2. Do not use food as a relaxation tool.  In his new book, The end of overeating, David Kessler, MD, highlights the fact that high-sugar, high-fat foods have been found to “relieve pain or stress and calm us down” – however the danger lies in the desire to want MORE.  When we eat foods that are “hyperpalatable” - aka yummy – it strikes a part of the brain that desires that taste over and over again.  Basically, that is why it is so difficult to stop at one scoop of Rocky Road ice cream or take only one homemade chocolate chip cookie – and the calories and fat grams can add up fast!

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LD (excerpted from her blog)

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