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Mar 23

Eating Healthy In Times of Uncertainty

Eating Healthy With Uncertainty Kat Rentas

When there is chaos in the world that we can’t control, it can leave us feeling uncertain.

This can lead many women to feeling out of control with their eating habits.

For many, this is unfamiliar territory.

Most of us are accustomed to certainty and routine in our lives. 

It’s not very often that we’re left feeling totally out of control of the circumstances going on in the world.

But, this doesn’t have to mean that we let ourselves spin out of control with our eating habits.

We can re-center ourselves so we’re continuing to eat in a way that cares for our bodies.

Because, despite how you feel in times of chaos, it’s always important to nourish your body from a place of love with food.

Where Uncertainty Comes From 

First, let’s talk about how uncertainty occurs.

Uncertainty is one of the stronger negative emotions you will ever experience.

Because this is a survival-based emotion.

When your brain senses circumstances it cannot control, it will go into panic-mode.

It will start creating thoughts of uncertainty in your mind.

Some examples of uncertain thoughts are:

  • “I don’t know what’s going to happen”
  • “Will I be safe?”
  • “What will happen if things go wrong?”

Uncertain thoughts are often very urgent and fear-based.

And they’re a natural reaction from your brain in times where circumstances are beyond our control.

Our brains were designed this way to keep us safe. 

Since the brain only loves what’s familiar to it.

When your brain knows it can control a situation, it knows it can keep you alive.

When your brain lacks control of circumstances outside of you, it triggers thoughts and feelings of uncertainty so you panic and get as far away from danger as possible.

This is normal. Nothing has gone wrong here.

In primitive times, when we had feelings of uncertainty this usually meant we were about to be attacked or killed.

As human beings today, this is rarely the case.

Regardless, we’re left with the same primitive brain that kept us alive years ago.

So the fact that uncertainty makes you feel like you’re in real danger is totally normal.

This means your brain is working properly.

Uncertainty and Our Eating Habits 

Now, let’s discuss how uncertainty affects your body and eating habits.

The more heightened, survival-based emotions will trigger a stress response in your body.

A stress response is, once again, your body’s way of keeping you alive in times of danger.

This response triggers a sequence of events that occur physiologically so you’re kept safe.

Examples of ways your body responds to stress are:

  • Slower metabolism
  • Increased cortisol levels
  • Fat retention 
  • Food cravings

All of these symptoms of stress are because your body is trying to keep you alive.

During times of stress and survival-mode, your body is focused on conserving energy and increasing your food intake.

I want to point out, again, that nothing has gone wrong here.

Many people like to attach resentment to these symptoms.

Especially when it comes to fat retention and food cravings. 

But these symptoms are truly just your body doing its job properly to keep you healthy and alive.

Overeating During Times of Stress

It’s no secret that in times of stress many of us will feel called to overeat.

Which usually leads to women beating themselves up afterwards.

I want you to understand that overeating in times of stress is completely normal.

The first reason overeating occurs is because of how your body works.

As we learned, overeating is a natural response from your body in times of stress, since a stress-response triggers food cravings.

In the old days, times of stress indicated that food was about to run out or that a famine was about to occur.

So, your body basically wants you to stock up for survival!

When you understand your overeating patterns in this way, it removes the drama from them.

It’s worth mentioning that just because cravings are stimulated by stress, doesn’t mean you’re out of control with food.

Your eating habits are never beyond your control.

It’s when you indulge in the cravings that you give up your power over your eating habits.

The second reason overeating occurs is because of your unwillingness to experience uncertainty.

Uncertainty is simply a feeling or vibration inside your body that is caused by your thoughts.

And you overeat, because you’re trying to escape the feeling of uncertainty.

Because, let’s face it, uncertainty can feel awful!

It’s those survival-based emotions that make us feel panicky and out of control. 

But, it is simply a feeling nonetheless.

Which means we can be willing to experience uncertainty without reacting to it by overeating.

This is entirely possible for you.

Eating Healthy With Uncertainty

1) Have Awareness

The first step to eating healthy with uncertainty is having awareness.

You want to be hyper-aware of what uncertainty feels like inside your body.

Understand what thoughts produce that feeling of uncertainty for you.

Realize that uncertainty doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in immediate danger.

But that it’s really just triggered by thoughts in your mind.

2) Practice Feeling Uncertainty

Notice when you experience uncertainty in your body.

And observe how your cravings increase during that time.

Instead of giving into the food cravings right away, practice feeling uncertainty for a while.

Be willing to sit with your uncertainty to 5-10 minutes before eating.

By doing this, you will see how little power uncertainty has to have over your eating habits.

3) Lower Stress Levels

As we now know, uncertain thoughts & feelings will trigger a stress-response in your body.

During times of uncertainty in the world, we must have compassion for this.

And understand that thoughts of uncertainty are expected.

To work with uncertainty that is already present, practice lowering your stress levels.

Uncertainty is usually laced with feelings of being “out of control”.

So, what practices can you incorporate that make you feel more in control?

You might want to practice more self-care, set boundaries on how much media you consume, cook a healthy recipe, go for a walk, etc.

The possibilities are endless here.

Explore where you can incorporate healthy peace and control in your life.

So, your stress levels aren’t running the show during this time of uncertainty.

4) Practice New Thoughts

During times of chaos, thoughts and feelings of uncertainty can be expected.

This is a natural survival-response of your brain.

You can, however, reduce those feelings of uncertainty over time. 

This comes by practicing new thoughts and feelings.

I recommend starting with thoughts that produce feelings of groundedness or safety.

Thoughts you can practice are:

  • “I have everything I need to survive – right now”
  • “I’m safe, protected, and whole”
  • “Everything must pass eventually” 
  • “What if I’m just totally safe from harm?” 

Practice doing this for yourself.

Everytime a fear-based thought of uncertainty comes up for you, have a conversation with your brain.

Ask it questions and have a healthy debate as to why your brain could be wrong!

I do this all the time.

It’s a helpful practice when your brain has uncertain thought-loops that cause you to spin into panic. 

What to Do Next

When there is chaos in the world, I want you to know that it’s okay to establish a new normal with food.

Because the reality is, things are not normal during times of chaos.

It’s incredibly natural for your brain to panic and experience emotions of uncertainty during this time.

What I want for you, is to use this circumstance as an opportunity to do your best work with your eating habits.

Not with the intention to lose weight or eat perfectly.

But to explore how your body responds during times of uncertainty.

And there’s no better time to care for your body than by feeding it the foods it needs to be nourished and healthy.

Although we cannot control all of the circumstances in our world, we can always choose how we show up for the healthiest, happiest versions of ourselves.

I can’t wait to see what you do with this practice.

Here for you, always.

- Kat Rentas

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Kat Rentas, Eating Psych. Coach

Hey there! I'm Kat. I'm a former yo-yo dieter turned eating psychology coach. I help high-performing women overcome yo-yo dieting & emotional eating so they can learn to eat healthy and gain trust in their bodies. Here, we focus on eating mindfully, ditching the diet forever, and gaining limitless body confidence. I've done this for myself, and now it's my mission to teach you how! You can read my full story here.

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