Breathe to Relax

One of the commonest causes of non-hungry eating is stress.

In the honeymoon period post surgery, this doesn’t seem to be a major problem. But as real life starts to click in, old habits can resurface, and stress related eating is one of them.

This is the point where we recommend a Foundations of Healthy Living Retreat; to learn how to understand your brain and how to use it to live a value-orientated life. The first stress-reducing tool that we teach at the retreat can be accessed any time, and is a useful tool at any stage in the journey.

Fight/Flight vs Slow/Grow

The body has two parallel automatic nervous systems.

The first, the sympathetic nervous system, is the fight, flight or freeze system, and this is associated with feelings of anxiety and stress. Living much of the time in this mode is metabolically fat gaining.

The second, the parasympathetic system, is the slow grow nutritive system, involved with healthy growth and maintenance.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

We can utilise a particular form of diaphragmatic (deep) breathing to switch off the fight/flight system and switch on the slow/grow system, by activating the vagus nerve, a large nerve to the gut that runs through the chest.

This results in a feeling of calmness and peace, enabling better choice making, and hopefully reducing the risk of weight regain. By using the technique regularly (once a day), it becomes possible to train the body to rapidly shift in just a few breaths.

This technique is explained, taught and guided by a free app downloadable on the iTunes app store or Android Google play store. It is called Breathe2Relax and we highly recommend it.

General Breathing Tips

  • Notice how your breathing is in an given moment. Is it shallow? Fast? 
  • Turn your attention to your diaphragm and breathe deeper into the space (your belly below the lungs)
  • Focus on your exhale, allowing your breath to fully release
  • Play with breathing through your nose and mouth
  • Take a few deep breaths when feeling cravings, stress or worry