In a world where our relationship with food has evolved into a multifaceted puzzle, we find ourselves turning to it not just for nourishment but as a remedy for emotional voids, stress, and unresolved traumas.

The pursuit of food, the act of eating, has become our default solution to a multitude of underlying issues. This article delves deep into the intricacies of this phenomenon, unveiling the connections between allostasis, small t and big T traumas, and the pursuit of holistic solutions beyond the plate.

We will explore the profound impact of stress on our eating habits, the shadow that unresolved traumas cast on our relationship with food, and practical strategies that go beyond quick fixes. Our journey will encompass mindful eating, nutrient-dense choices, and the importance of a balanced plate to foster both physical and emotional well-being.

Welcome to a holistic approach that seeks to transform your connection with food and nourish not only your body but also your mind and soul.

Understanding Allostatic Load

In our fast-paced world, chronic stress has become a pervasive presence, disrupting the delicate balance within our bodies known as allostasis. This disruption often triggers an insatiable desire for food, even in the absence of genuine hunger. Our bodies, attempting to cope with the stressors, seek comfort in the act of eating. This phenomenon, known as allostatic load, reveals the intricate connection between stress and our drive to eat.

  • Allostatic load, induced by chronic stress, heightens the drive to eat, irrespective of hunger cues.
  • Emotional eating often arises as a coping mechanism when our bodies are under prolonged stress, leading to an unhealthy relationship with food.
  • Acknowledging the impact of stress on eating habits is the first step towards breaking the cycle of emotional eating.

Navigating Small T and Big T Trauma

Trauma, whether big or small, casts a long shadow on our relationship with food. Small t traumas, subtle yet persistent, accumulate over time, creating a constant undercurrent of anxiety and emotional distress. Big T traumas, significant life events, leave deep scars, often leading to emotional eating as a means of self-soothing.

  • Small t traumas, such as prolonged emotional neglect, accumulate and manifest as emotional eating habits.
  • Big T traumas, like loss or abuse, can trigger emotional eating as individuals attempt to find solace in food.
  • Addressing both small t and big T traumas is essential in untangling the emotional complexities surrounding food.

Seeking Both Food And Non-Food Solutions

To break free from the cycle of emotional eating, holistic solutions that extend beyond mere dietary changes are imperative. Let’s take a deeper look at both food related and non food related solutions. These include addressing sleep, stress and recovery and adding nutrient-dense foods to our diet provides our bodies with essential vitamins and minerals, addressing deficiencies that often lead to emotional lows and fatigue.

Adding Nutrition – We Feel Bad Due to a Lack of Nutrition, so Adding Nutrient Density is a Good Start to Feeling Better:

Many of us experience those moments of low energy, mood swings, and a general sense of malaise. Often, these feelings can be attributed to a lack of essential nutrients in our diet. The first step towards feeling better is to introduce nutrient-dense foods into our meals. These are foods that pack a powerful punch of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. By focusing on nutrient-dense options, we provide our bodies with the raw materials they need to function optimally, leading to increased energy levels, improved mood, and overall well-being.

Eating Slowly to Improve Digestion, Address Calorie Balance, and Increase Experiential Satisfaction:

In our fast-paced world, we often rush through our meals without a second thought. However, the way we eat can significantly impact our health and satisfaction. Eating slowly is a mindful practice that can improve digestion and help us maintain a healthy calorie balance. By taking your time to savor each bite, you’ll tune into your body’s hunger and fullness cues, preventing overeating and promoting a balanced intake of calories. Moreover, eating slowly enhances the experiential satisfaction of your meals, making each one a more fulfilling and enjoyable experience.

Include Protein – 1-2 Palm-Size Servings Per Meal:

Protein is a fundamental component of our diet, crucial for various bodily functions. Including an adequate amount of protein in your meals is essential for maintaining muscle mass, supporting cellular repair, and keeping you feeling full and satisfied. A practical guideline is to aim for 1-2 palm-sized servings of protein per meal. This could include lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, or plant-based sources like tofu or legumes. By incorporating enough protein, you not only nourish your body but also ensure you stay energized and satisfied throughout the day.

Include Vegetables – 1-2 Fist-Size Portions Per Meal, Eat the Rainbow:

Vegetables are a treasure trove of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Including them in your meals is not just about getting your greens; it’s about embracing the diversity of nutrients nature provides. Aim for 1-2 fist-sized portions of vegetables per meal, and remember to “eat the rainbow.” Different colors in vegetables indicate the presence of various beneficial compounds. By diversifying your vegetable intake, you ensure your body receives a broad spectrum of nutrients, promoting optimal health and vitality.

Eat Smelly Things – Herbs, Spices, Mustard, Garlic… Add Nutrients to the Body:

Enhancing the flavor of your dishes doesn’t just make them more enjoyable; it also boosts their nutritional value. Incorporate aromatic ingredients like herbs, spices, mustard, garlic, and more. These not only make your meals delicious but also provide your body with essential nutrients. For example, herbs and spices are rich in antioxidants, and garlic has been shown to have various health benefits, including supporting the immune system. So, don’t be shy with these flavourful additions – your taste buds and your health will thank you.

Include Healthy Fats – Omega 3 Will Address Inflammation and Help Address the Omega 3:6 Imbalance:

Fats are an essential part of a balanced diet, but not all fats are created equal. Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, are particularly beneficial. Omega-3 fats are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and play a crucial role in addressing the omega 3:6 fatty acid imbalance that is common in modern diets. By incorporating sources of healthy fats, you help reduce inflammation in your body, support brain health, and promote overall well-being. So, don’t shy away from these nutrient-packed fats in your meals.

The Restorative Power of Sleep: Your Ultimate Stress Management Tool

Stress is an inescapable part of our daily lives. From work demands to personal responsibilities, it often feels like there’s no respite. While we can’t eliminate stress entirely, we can control how we respond to it.

One of the most effective stress management tools at our disposal is sleep. Quality rest not only rejuvenates the body but also fortifies the mind, helping us navigate life’s challenges with resilience and clarity.

So let’s explore the intimate connection between stress and sleep, and provide you with practical strategies to harness the restorative power of a good night’s sleep for enhanced stress management.

The Stress-Sleep Connection

Stress and sleep are intrinsically linked. When stress becomes chronic, it can disrupt our sleep patterns, leading to difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep. In turn, poor sleep exacerbates stress, creating a vicious cycle that can have serious implications for both our physical and mental well-being.

  • Cortisol and the Sleep-Wake Cycle: The body’s stress hormone, cortisol, follows a natural circadian rhythm. In the morning, it should be at its peak to help us wake up and face the day. However, chronic stress can disrupt this cycle, leading to increased cortisol levels at night, which can make falling asleep a challenge.
  • Sleep Quality and Resilience: Quality sleep is essential for mental and emotional resilience. When we sleep well, our brains process stress and emotions effectively, allowing us to wake up with a refreshed perspective and a better ability to cope with life’s challenges.

Practical Strategies for Stress Management Through Sleep

  1. Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
  2. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Engage in calming activities before bed, such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation exercises. Avoid stimulating activities like heavy workouts or consuming caffeine close to bedtime.
  3. Optimise Your Sleep Environment: Ensure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows. Make your sleeping space a sanctuary for relaxation.
  4. Limit Screen Time: The blue light emitted from electronic devices can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Try to avoid screens at least an hour before bedtime.
  5. Mindfulness and Stress Reduction: Incorporate relaxation techniques like mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises into your daily routine to manage stress effectively. This can help calm your mind before bedtime.
  6. Watch Your Diet: Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime, and be mindful of caffeine and alcohol consumption, as they can disrupt sleep. Opt for a light snack if you’re hungry before bed.
  7. Regular Physical Activity: Engaging in regular exercise can improve sleep quality. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week. However, avoid vigorous workouts close to bedtime.

The Rewards of Prioritising Sleep

By implementing these strategies, you’ll not only enhance the quality of your sleep but also transform your ability to manage stress effectively. Quality sleep enables you to approach life’s challenges with a clear mind and a resilient spirit. It’s a powerful tool in your stress management arsenal that can improve your overall health and well-being.

In conclusion, understanding the relationship between stress and sleep is the first step towards effective stress management. Embrace the restorative power of sleep by making it a priority in your life. Your body and mind will thank you, and you’ll find yourself better equipped to face life’s stresses with poise and confidence.

Balanced Plate, Balanced Life

Creating a balanced plate goes beyond just meeting nutritional needs; it embodies a holistic approach to overall wellness. Including adequate protein in the form of lean meats, fish, or plant-based sources provides the body with essential amino acids for various bodily functions. Additionally, incorporating a colourful array of vegetables ensures a diverse intake of vitamins and minerals.

  • Protein, in 1-2 palm-sized servings per meal, fuels the body with vital amino acids for optimal functioning.
  • Vegetables, in 1-2 fist-sized portions per meal, provide a spectrum of nutrients, promoting overall health and well-being.
  • Healthy fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish and nuts, restore the balance of essential fatty acids, combating inflammation and supporting brain health.


  • Allostatic load, induced by chronic stress, heightens the drive to eat, even when not hungry, leading to emotional eating.
  • Trauma, both small t and big T, creates emotional distress, often resulting in a reliance on food as a coping mechanism.
  • Holistic solutions, encompassing nutrient-dense foods, mindful eating practices, and aromatic ingredients, address emotional eating at its root.
  • A balanced plate, incorporating protein, vegetables, and healthy fats, is essential for overall well-being, promoting physical and emotional health.
  • Recognising the complex interplay of stress, trauma, and nutritional deficiencies equips individuals with the knowledge needed to cultivate a healthier relationship with food.

Next Steps: Explore the Benefits of Working with a Nutrition Coach

Ready to take your well-being to the next level? A nutrition coach can be your trusted partner on the journey to a healthier, more balanced life. By working with a nutrition coach, you’ll unlock a range of benefits:

  • Personalised Guidance: A nutrition coach will tailor advice to your specific needs, considering your dietary preferences, lifestyle, and health goals.
  • Accountability: Your coach will help you stay on track and motivated, ensuring that you follow through with your healthy eating plan.
  • Education: Gain valuable knowledge about nutrition, enabling you to make informed choices about what you eat.
  • Sustainable Solutions: Say goodbye to fad diets and quick fixes. A nutrition coach will provide you with long-term, sustainable strategies for healthier eating.
  • Improved Well-Being: Better nutrition often leads to increased energy, improved mood, and better sleep – all essential elements of effective stress management.

Ready to make a change? Contact a nutrition coach to start your journey towards a healthier, more balanced life. Your body and mind will thank you as you discover the power of nutritious, stress-reducing foods and the benefits of quality sleep for optimal well-being.

Reference List:

Understanding Allostatic Load:

  1. McEwen, B. S. (1998). Protective and damaging effects of stress mediators. New England Journal of Medicine, 338(3), 171-179.
  2. Adam, T. C., & Epel, E. S. (2007). Stress, eating and the reward system. Physiology & Behavior, 91(4), 449-458.

Navigating Small T and Big T Trauma:

  1. Felitti, V. J., et al. (1998). Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 14(4), 245-258.
  2. van der Kolk, B. A. (2015). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. Penguin.

Seeking Solutions Beyond Food:

  1. Drewnowski, A., & Almiron-Roig, E. (2010). Human perceptions and preferences for fat and sugar in foods. In Montmayeur J.P., le Coutre J., Schaal B. (Eds.), Fat Detection: Taste, Texture, and Post Ingestive Effects (pp. 265-290). CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.
  2. Ford, E. S., & Mokdad, A. H. (2003). Dietary magnesium intake in a national sample of US adults. The Journal of Nutrition, 133(9), 2879-2882.

Balanced Plate, Balanced Life:

  1. Micha, R., Peñalvo, J. L., Cudhea, F., Imamura, F., Rehm, C. D., & Mozaffarian, D. (2017). Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes. JAMA, 317(9), 912-924.
  2. Kris-Etherton, P. M., Harris, W. S., & Appel, L. J. (2002). Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease. Circulation, 106(21), 2747-2757.