Category Archives: Stress

“The Sweetness of Doing Nothing”

I recently watched the movie Eat, Pray, Love and was reminded again of why I love Italy.  Besides the breathtaking beauty of the cities and the countryside, the food is amazing and the way the Italians enjoy themselves is contagious and appealing.  In one of the scenes in the movie, an Italian was trying to explain to an American about “dolce farninte” (translated as “the sweetness of doing nothing” or “pleasant idleness”).  I think most Americans (myself included) could use an extended course in how to master this art of dolce farninte.  Continue reading

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“Laughter” … a medical prescription and workout plan I can endorse

 Being someone who is known for her big laugh, I loved the latest research findings by Lee Berk from Loma Linda University in California that indicate the health benefits of laughter.   In a small study of diabetes patients, researchers split patients –all with hypertension and hyperlipidemia (a risk factor for cardiovascuolar disease) into two groups. Both groups were given standard diabetes medication. However, over a year of treatments, the participants in the intervention group viewed 30 minutes of humor of their choosing. The participants in the control group did not get the laughter intervention. Continue reading

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Eating in Peace Park

peace park 002Ever notice that when you are stressed or anxious or sad or angry you feel it in your “gut?”  The obvious answer would be “YES.”  The reason may not be so obvious or well-know.  The enteric nervous system, which is located in the stomach is a kind of “mini-brain” that contains as many neurons (nerve cells) as the spinal cord and is connected to the brain in a two-way messenger system.  The “gut” not only registers our emotions but helps shape them.  Continue reading

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The relationship between stress and eating

More and more research is beginning to show the link between stress and eating behavior.  Stress can either produce undereating or overeating depending on the severity of the stressor.  However, there is a consistent pattern of evidence that people will eat food that is higher in sugar and fat when stressed.  While this type of eating might produce some short term psychological relief, the result is an increase in abdominal obesity and cardiovascular disease.  According to a study in Nutrition (Volume 23, Issues 11-12, November-December 2007, Pages 887-894), longitudinal studies suggest that chronic life stress may be causally linked to weight gain, with a greater effect seen in men.  This research indicates that stress-induced eating may be at least a partial explanation for the rising rates of obesity in our country.  Therefore, being aware of your stress levels and finding ways to better manage your stress will be essential in helping you make changes in your eating habits.  Anecdotally, at the end of each eight week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program that I teach, participants regularly report they have made changes in the way they eat even though we don’t specifically focus on food after the first week of the program when asked to eat one meal mindfully.  It is not surprising that more “mindful eating” programs are incorporating tools for handling stress such as meditation and yoga as an important component.  In addition, the skill of “being present” is essential when making choices about eating.  For a quick break from your stress and to cultivate your ability to be awake to your life and the choices you make, listen to a Taste of Mindfulness or the Three Minute Breathing Space  It only takes a minute or two to really make a difference in the way you feel.

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