Can peace be found in a piece of candy, cake or pie? If the stress of the news, the election and the weather has you eating everything not permanently nailed to a dish, here are 5 reasons food will not help and 5 happy alternatives.

On a scale of 1-10, the past week rates about a 12 on anyone’s poll: Millions of Americans have endured a massive hurricane and storm of Book of Mormon magnitude, watched sickening and vicious political adsfeaturing individuals who are our brothers and sisters, witnessed our nation sharply divided on the things that matter most, been on the receiving end of a constantly jangling phone requesting voter information, and barraged with more, more, and more information. Even here at our beloved Meridian, the comment boxes for recent articles are filled with a range of (dare I say “stressful”?) commentaries and observations.

If the past two weeks haven’t been stressful for you, then somehow you’ve detached from mainstream life for October and November 2012.

This list does not include any of the personal stresses that define modern life, no matter your age, occupation or family situation. No wonder most of us are feeling more than just a little stressed … hence the infamous joke that “stressed” reversed is “desserts,” the first recourse for most of us when life goes faster than a merry-go-round at 78 rpm.

I found it humorous to learn that over the course of their experience with hurricanes, Walmart has determined that Strawberry Pop-Tarts are one of the most purchased food items during emergencies. The reasoning is that “they require no heating, can be used at any meal, and last forever,” says Steve Horwitz, an economist at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., who studied Walmart’s response to Hurricane Katrina, in an recent interview with ABC News.

I have a feeling there’s more to it than that.Ummmm, way more.

Our desire and training to soothe ourselves during times of stress with food goes back to a few moments after our births when our Moms helped us find the nipple to milk.This behavior goes from there through to whatever age you are now with enticing foods of questionable nutritional content served as often (or more so it sometimes seems) as the healthy stuff.

I envy the individuals who by nature have discovered that their best stress relievers are NOT food.   Supermodel and the former wife of golf star Tiger Woods, Elin Nordegren relieved the stress of her humiliating divorce by putting on her sneakers and running for several miles every day. Way to go! No wonder she looks like that … and how come that’s not my natural inclination?

What do you do when you are stressed?

Logically and intellectually we know that food is not the answer when our nerves are frayed, we feel pressured, disappointed, concerned or that any number of our life’s elements isout of control. In these difficult days and times we bury our heads in the sand as we use food to provide instant protection, instant comfort, instant distraction and instant painrelief from the circumstances that are outside of our control.

Perhaps that’s why new studies show that even in the last four years the obesity rates have increased here in the U.S. Using a model of population and other trends, a new report released on Tuesday by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation projects that half of U.S. adults will be obese by 2030 unless Americans change their ways.

The beauty of life and our Heavenly Father’s plan is that we CAN change. First, we can choose to face reality. Overeating of food for stress relief will never help on any real level because:

1. The hurt (or concern) will still be there after the food has been eaten

2. Eating fills your stomach, not your heart or your life

3. After overeating when stressed, there are now three problems: a) the one you ate to run from; b) your physical discomfort; and c) the guilt/frustration and disappointment with yourself for turning to food again

4. No matter how much you eat or for how long, the feelings and reality will always come back.

5. Food and eating simply do not address frustration, worry, illness, rejection, sadness, loneliness or fears.

After all, food is simply food! Not God. Not medicine. Not a plan.

What are better ways than overeating to relieve stress? First of all, make sure you’re not HUNGRY. No one makes smart choices when they’re hungry. Stressful times mean that we need to be especially mindful of the body’s need for genuine, regular nutrition.

If you’re NOT hungry, but still want to eat here are 5 quickies that really work!

1) What Would Jesus Do?

Picture him and follow his example. Would he be eating a Pop-tart? Eating from a tub of cookie dough? Or finding some way to serve others, share the gospel, or help someone else with their stress? He would find solace through prayer and the scriptures. It is clear he frequently went outdoors, to the mountains and to the beach. Without modern transportation, he walked everywhere! These are all wonderful stress relievers to put the stresses of earth life back into perspective. We can hum “I’m trying to be like Jesus” as we just walk away from the refrigerators, pick at leftovers, eat while watching TV, etc.

2) Indulge in low calorie additional Healthy Comfort Foods.

Though we often think of comfort foods being gooey macaroni and cheese, ice cream, chips, donuts and candy, those are foods that provide very little nutrition and leave your body craving for MORE of them as it literally hungry for something nutritious to eat.

It’s easy to make a yummy creamy vegetable soup by pureeing part of the vegetables cooked in a broth, then adding it back to the pot. Our family favorite is to fill a stock pot with carrots, onions, celery, green beans, a potato or two, and spinach. I cover it with 8 cups of water and some bouillon for seasoning. I throw in a little rice (about cup) to absorb some of the moisture. When it is all cooked and tender, I puree the whole thing. Delicious! There are healthy recipes GALORE and just cooking some good things and exploring a bit will be a perfect distraction.

As always my favorite: frozen bananas or berries whizzed up in the blender with a bit of vanilla and soy milk is a great treat.

You can always munch on soft, warm, cooked veggies with a little salt or spritz of olive oil for practically 0-calories, and somehow your body knows when to happily quit, unlike with chocolate chip cookes.

3) A warm drink is always comforting.

Be it some heated juice, an herbal tea or one that we buy at our health food store called “Roma”. It tastes like the old Postum (sadly no longer available) and really hits the spot. The detox tea I share atwww.MyMiracleTea.comis especially gentle and soothing, a great stress reliever and also curbs the appetite for sweets.

4) Deep breathing right where you are!

Count to ten as you breathe in and hold for a count of 5, then release as you count to 5 and hold for 5. Do it often, at home, at work, in the car, etc.

No one will even know, but it’ll be a blessing for you personally and those around you as you are calm and gentle by being in control of yourself. I am truly enjoying the stress relief with my morning 15-minute deep-breathing and toning routine from

5) Say Goodbye.

Get rid of the Halloween candy (it’s been long enough now to just toss it out or have a neighbor hold onto it for gingerbread houses in December.) Then just turn off the radio, TV, phone, etc. I read in Oprah’s interview that Ann Romney, for her own peace and health, simply never turns on the TV. That may be hard to believe over the last little while and with what’s coming up this week, but we can follow that great example to even a small degree and experience more much needed peace.

Peace, peace, oh beloved peace. It will rarely be found in mindlessly eating pieces of candy, cake or pie, but it will be found in feeding our bodies and spirits the nutrition they deserve and crave. And guess who gets to vote on that and make it happen? That fact makes us each a proven winner!

Carolyn Allen has been providing weight loss inspiration since 1999 both online and in community venues in the Washington, D.C. area. Her favorite food is steamed broccoli (lots of it!) with a little butter and lemon-pepper. Her book, 60 seconds to Weight Loss Success, is available for free through the first of week of September from her website, or at Learn more about her herbal health tonic and colon cleanse at