The story of my patient Sarah, who came to me with an interesting request about her “Beast”
” Lately I feel an absolute frustration about myself. Earlier I could more or less manage my cravings, but now something happened, some beast occupied my body I think, which is coming out at night time )) Coming from work every single day from Monday to Friday I’m breaking down for food, I can’t stop myself, I eat everything I have in the fridge and around. On weekends we usually eat out with my family or order takeaway, so it means the beast is the whole day with me then. Though from the morning till evening I eat quite good weekdays, having better foods, doing better choices if I buy something from the shops. But in the evenings the Beast wakes up! Literally, when I eat a quite healthy dinner, and by the way till full, I come to chat with my family and play with the kids but constantly thinking about foods, especially junk food such as crisps, sweets, and bakery. And can not control this feeling at all… And of course, I feel guilty all the time after I ate something “bad”, and have a troubled sleep because of it. I put a lot of weight during the last year of the whole stressful time, and now I feel I am in some vicious circle where is no way out. I actually know precisely how to eat healthily and lose my extra weight as once studied a course about nutrition, but I just lost control of myself, can’t apply any of my knowledge. I feel something wrong and I need some help with handling my beast”
The first question I ask my clients in this type of situation “Are you resting enough nowadays? And do you have your own time?”
☝️ The Beast in the evenings is the first sign of LACK OF REST OR LACK OF OWN TIME.
Too much work and caring for others 👉 not enough time for own things such as hobbies or sports or anything that makes people happy. Consequently 👉 lack of dopamine. And the easiest source of dopamine is SWEET/ FATTY/ FLAVOURY FOODS = any junk food. Pretty easy equation.
Dear ladies, you should understand that we have an absolutely different from men energy. And evolutionary our mind is not set up for giant work, strong achievements and competitions. This was always a “warrior” task which means men’s one. Our systems initially are created to thrive, carry a baby and look after the nest. That is why, when nowadays women are obsessed with carrier and achievements, their mind is just insufficient in “basic emotions of enjoying life”. And of course, it tries to get similar sensations (due to the hormone dopamine) first of all from foods. It`s called STRESS-RELATED EATING (Yau and Potenza, 2014).
As appeared, Sarah had a very stressful job, which she never finishes in time, the delay at work was nearly every day. Overall, with traveling, she leaves the house at 8 am and comes home around 8 pm, then she cooks for the family (husband and 2 kids), helps kids with their homework, and goes to bed around midnight deadly tired. Weekends she usually cleans the house and doing programs with the family, and hardly finds the time for her exercise, not to mention her own “alone time”.
Let’s talk about HEALTHY WORK-LIFE BALANCE for the beginning.
According to NICE (National Institute for health and care excellence), the pressure of an increasingly demanding work culture in the UK is one of the biggest contributors to stress among the general population. While traditional working hours are 37 hours a week, the recent and dramatic rise in Britain’s working hours suggests this is likely to increase. 20.1% of the UK working population work 45 hours or more per week. The human costs of unmanaged work-related stress are extensive. Feeling unhappy about the amount of time you spend at work and neglecting other aspects of life because of work may increase your vulnerability to stress. Increased levels of stress can, if not addressed early enough, lead to burn-out or more severe mental health problems. Mental health problems such as anxiety and depression are thought to be the leading cause of work absences, accounting for up to 40% of sickness leave. As a result, mental ill-health now accounts for a significant proportion of long-term sickness and early retirement.
Regarding obesity and excess weight, the authors of a meta-analyses, who studies in 2019 nineteen randomized control trials found a significant association between long working hours and the risk of gaining excess weight. They discovered that 20.2% of healthy weight participants out of 61143 became overweight/obese after 4.4 years of working more than 55 hours a week (Virtanen et al., 2019)
Of course, the association can be explained by long sitting hours, or lack of time for healthier eating as the authors indicated in their study. But one of the most important points in an effective life-work balance, is time for rest or time for own things (“alone time”) (Yau and Potenza, 2014).
HOW TO HANDLE THE BEAST?..
I suggest starting with prioritizing things in your life. First place – yourself, your body, and your wellbeing. If you are exhausted and out of energy you are not so useful for your family and people around you, isn`t it?.. Not helping yourself, you can`t really help others.
Try to restructure your day to bring the balance to the work-life mode, when you have enough time for rest and own (not others!) things. Indeed, in this case you need to compromise something and get out of your comfort zone, but if you are trully willing to change something in your life, getting out of your routine is essential.
Take time to relax. Saying “I just can’t take the time off” is no use if you are forced to take time off later through ill health. Striking a balance between responsibility to others and responsibility to yourself is vital in reducing stress levels.
Having enough rest and your “alone time”, will give you a chance to think more about your nutrition and wellbeing, to organize the self-care about your own body.
This way the beast will run away as it won`t have any space left! 😉
Eat healthy, do sports, and be happy. Sincerely, Katsiaryna.