Stress & cravings with Dori Martin
In this interview, Laurie and Dori Martin discuss Stress & Cravings, where they come from and what you can do against them and take back control.
Dori is a Stress & Cravings expert and creator of group programs and one-on-one sessions to help women struggling with cravings and emotional eating break free from the cycle of chronic stress, dieting and weight loss resistance.
This is a transcription of an Instagram live conversation. You can find the full video on Laurie’s IGTV tab on Instagram and on soon on YouTube.
I’m back today to talk with Dori Martin, stress and cravings coach.
We’re going to be talking about stress and cravings. I feel that there are so many of you out there who are talking to me about stress. This is an important topic.
So thanks Dori for coming to chat with me about it today. So you’re a stress and cravings coach. Tell me more about what you do and who you are.
Yeah, absolutely. I started out in this space, because to the core, I’m really a caregiver. So I ended up getting a certification as a functional health coach. During my certification process, we found out my husband had stage four cancer.
That’s when I made it all about him, I took care of his stuff. We were trying to figure out how to keep him around. He was doing standard care and they said there was nothing that they could do. They told us to put his affairs in order.
We used all the protocols we had and he’s still here now. That’s pretty amazing, but I got burnt out, because I wasn’t paying attention to my own health.
I realized I really need to focus on myself. If I’m not around I can’t help everybody around me as a caregiver and then I’m no good to anybody. For me it’s been a long journey to kind of figure out this stuff.
There’s a lot of things that I’ve done in health and wellness. I got invited to work with somebody who’s in the weight loss resistance world and her approach was really to use nutrition, to draw people in about weight loss. But really when you go into the program, it’s a lot of learning about yourself, your body, what it wants you to do, how to listen to the symptoms, where it’s telling you what it needs and customizing something for yourself.
I led with that as I started my own practice and I realized a lot of it is about just managing your stress. Weight loss happens when you’re in a healthy state and it shouldn’t be the focus. I think that the people who fall off the rails and never get what they really want, which is to be happy and peaceful, to wake up in the morning and feel like there’s something to look forward to in life, are the ones who focus on weight.
So I really didn’t want to focus on that anymore. I wanted to focus on managing your stress and cravings, because a lot of stress is about the things that are happening in your world. The way I see it is a little bit different in the sense that stress is of course what’s going on emotionally. There’s just so much going on, especially today in this world. But stress is also about things that have happened in your lifetime and how you perceive things around you.
That basically the lens with which you see the world. So if you can just shift that lens, reframing something that didn’t look so great, can have you show up in the world healthier and happier.
I think that’s really important, but the other aspect of stress is environmental-habitual. It’s the people you hang out with, it’s the things embedded in your day. Do you watch the news first thing in the morning? Do you look at women’s magazines and compare yourself? Do you watch commercials where marketers have embedded a bunch of junk food in front of you so that you really want to overeat, even though you didn’t before? So a lot of it is habitual and environmental.
Plus the chemicals they put in our foods, are a stressor on your body and it causes cravings that weren’t there before. So a lot of these cravings aren’t really yours. It’s just something that’s embedded into the day-to-day course of your life.
The final source of stress that I think about is the internal physiological stressors. A lot of it is just about balancing your hormones, because those aren’t your natural state. Your body chemistry might be telling you, “SOS. Please help me. Do something. I really need some attention.“ What we do is we keep efforting outside of us and try to make things work, like fight, flight, freeze and fawn. For example I overstudy, I try to gain more information, because I’m trying to manhandle this situation into submission.
Or I’m fawning. I’ll call my friend. I’m stressing out, but I don’t take care of myself, because I’ve never really cultivated that muscle. So I’ll call a friend, “Hey, are you doing okay? Oh, you have this problem. Let me just go over and extend myself to you.”
Or I’m in fight mode, for example my husband’s whole cancer journey, I was thinking, “I’m going to beat this thing. I’m going to make this happen.”
All of that is really stressful to your body on all levels. With stress you have to look at it sort of in a 360° view. It’s not that you have to go buy this $500 equipment or these sensors or whatever it is. It’s about mindfulness, the ancient wisdom of time, being present, playing, being in a place where you’re grateful for things in your life that are going well, focusing on that, and then just creating micro habits every day.
So when you wake up, if you do supplements or essential oils or whatever, have it there in the morning, have your yoga mat somewhere where you can see it and it’s ready to go. Whatever you like to do to help you feel like you’re supported and you’re cared for.
I also like to think of destressing as something you dose throughout the day. It’s not something you do when everything’s up in smoke already.
I feel like we’re all in such a state of fight or flight. It’s become our set point. We don’t know on a conscious level what it feels like to be calm anymore. It’s important to really remind our bodies what it feels like to be in a place of peace and rest and digest, because the body can’t heal and thrive when you’re in that state.
I really, really believe in reminding yourself every day, again and again, making it automatic, dosing it in your schedule. Maybe every time before you have a meal, you do some breath work. I mean, it’s really simple. You don’t have to do anything fancy or get a fancy device. So if you do that before a meal, you already do that maybe two or three times a day.
Then when you wake up, you do something and then you go to sleep. So you have maybe five doses a day of something to remind yourself, “Hey, you’re safe. It’s all good. You’re going to take care of yourself.”
You build it into your daily habits.
Yeah. It’s not like, “Wait, did I do that today?” It’s more like it’s part of it and so you’ve done something to take care of yourself.
You almost have to build it in before, like you build in the stress management tools and strategies before you have the stress.
Yes, exactly. Because life happens and you never know when something’s going to happen.
When you’re in your rest and digest state, your brain works better because you’re not in that lizard brain. So you’re able to adapt better and have more perspective and be able to just kind of be more resilient.
I love how you also said that healing happens in that state. I talk about this a lot and I’m not sure that followers always know the difference between two different states.
I’ll just briefly explain, they’re the different parts of the autonomic nervous system. So you we’re talking about the fight or flight, and then you were also talking about rest and digest. These are two states that we switch in and out of.
I think of it as like a dial on the stereo, we can turn it up and we can turn it down. When that dial is turned over into the rest and digest state, that’s when we heal. Like you said, if we’re always over on the other side, we’re not giving our body an opportunity to heal or to rejuvenate, to restore after a stressful event.
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Right. I really believe a lot of us live in that state.
In terms of talking about self care, I think that just falls to the wayside, because especially as women, we’ve been taught this way, just because we have the ability to create life and nurture. That’s a super power, but then there’s always a dark side or shadow side where you forget to do that to yourself.
I believe that once you’re able to do that for yourself, you do show up better for everybody else. It’s just really hard, because a lot of women feel like it’s really selfish. And I remember when I started shifting to practicing self care, I thought that self care takes a lot of time, but it doesn’t have to.
I think it’s a myth that you have to set aside hours of time or pay for something really expensive when all it is is getting some sunshine, going out into nature. It sounds so easy when you hear about it. In the past I would have rolled my eyes, but try it out. Just do that small thing, get outside, get into the sunshine and just be in nature for a second, because that’s basically how our bodies were designed.
A lot of us aren’t even doing something foundational that the body was designed to thrive on, like getting some morning sunshine, getting out into the fresh air. Just being quiet and present in the moment, because we’re always thinking about what happened yesterday, what happened an hour ago and what’s going to happen.
That stresses ahead of time and it’s not living in the moment. I know some people say that the way you do food, is a way you do life. When it comes to the whole cravings component, some people scarf down their food so quickly that they don’t even remember. So the brain didn’t register that it even happened.
When addressing the craving component it kind of symbolically stands for what you are craving in life. A lot of times when people are stressed out, it goes hand in hand with cravings.
There are two differences between cravings and emotional eating. I had a history of almost any eating disorder you could think of like nighttime eating, snacking, and just not eating at all and then eating too much.
What you’re really doing is you’re numbing out. So that’s emotional eating. In emotional eating it’s that versus a craving, because there anything will do. I mean, you’ll just grab like a bowl of rice, because you’re just trying to numb out and escape, because you’re exhausted, you’re lonely, you’re feeling ashamed, tired, or whatever. All you want to do is drown that out. You feel like you don’t have a voice, so you kind of just shove it down, scarf it down and try to escape.
I think that’s why a lot of it happens at nighttime when things get quiet, because that’s when your thoughts start simmering up. That’s why I say a lot of times that having cravings when you’re tired, is a good thing. Maybe it’s a signal that you should go to sleep earlier and reset, because as we know when you go to sleep it disconnects that negative feeling or memory from that memory. So it’s kind of a nice detox of emotional distress.
The other thing is, when you have cravings, there’s some lack of sweetness in life. A lot of times you’re not grabbing salmon or something like that. You’re driving for something that’s got carbs in it. A lot of times what you’re doing is, you’re trying to soothe yourself. Your body’s telling you, “Hey, I need something.” Instead of taking the time to figure out what’s going on and what you really need, you’re giving it something that’s easy access.
So when you do a lot of self-care and you ease that idea of something lacking or distress in your heart and your soul, a lot of times your cravings can go away. That’s how I tie in cravings and stress.
But sometimes it’s the physiological stressors that are causing those cravings. That’s why we do labs. It might be gut pathogens, you might find that you have candida. Especially with something like candida, it’ll cause you to crave sugars. These things can cause brain fog, fatigue, weight gain and all kinds of other things, but it can also cause cravings. It’s not going to be your own cravings, but those of these gut bugs.
So I went through this and tried so many things until I realised that my hormones were tanked. Understanding that I was working on my emotional stress and I was doing the right diet for me at the time. I also had to address my body chemistry. A lot of it has to do with stress, because that allows all these other things to happen.
So it’s about giving your body the ability to heal and to calm your body down and let it know it’s supported, give yourself what you need. Then your body’s able to fix things, because it’s always wanting to go back into balance.
Find out how to give your body what it needs, so that it can take care of itself.
Absolutely. When you’re able to turn that dial down, it heals itself. What you mentioned before is that stress comes in so many different forms.
So a lot of times we just think of stress as the emotional and the mental stress that we experience. But stress can come in some hidden forms, like you were talking about candida, gut pathogens, viruses, inflammation and different things that we experience.
Blood sugar can be a stressor too. I really like talking about blood sugar. This can happen to anybody. You don’t have to be diabetic or pre-diabetic to have blood sugar issues that are causing stress.
These sort of hidden stressors can make a woman feel less resilient, even with the same stressors in their lives. You could suddenly be like, “Why can’t I handle all of these things?” It could be those hidden stressors, because you feel like, “I was doing, all these things right and I’m not taking on any more than I used to. Why is that my body feels like it’s crumbling. I can’t handle anything.”
Exactly. Sometimes people still have issues, even when they do a program and they have the tendency to start thinking that they aren’t doing the program right. But it’s not that you’re not doing the program right, it’s because your body is the one with the wisdom, not the program.
I don’t like using the word diet, because it just gives people the idea there’s a template and everybody should follow it exactly that way, that actually stresses people out and shuts their body down.
Diets are just very damaging to people. There are diets that are therapeutic and they’re not even the right ones all the time. You really just have to listen to your body.
I really think diet culture and dieting is a huge stressor and it’s so damaging on women.
I’ve seen thousands of people. The people who actually don’t end up being healthy, which is really the goal, are the ones who are staring at the scale. They don’t look at the fact that your brain fog is clearing. You’re waking up happier and you’re enjoying life more. You’re being more productive. Your sleep is amazing. You’re gas and bloating is gone.
It doesn’t matter, because the weight says I’m a bad person. That stuff is just the worst, I think. So I would rather focus on, are you feeling happy today? Do you have things to look forward to? Do you have supportive people in your life? Because even with weight loss, if you don’t have those things, you’re not going to be happy.
At the end of the day, your body does what it needs to and wants to do instead of conforming to what you think it needs or what society says it needs to do. You can’t beat and hate a body into submission into what you want it to be. I think it’s quite the opposite. You let it take the lead and it’ll take you where you want to be.
Most definitely. I completely agree with that. When we turn that down, when we can give our body a chance to heal it will find that balance again. Weight loss might not happen right away, but if you’re feeling better, your brain fog is going away, you’re energetic and happy. All that are really good signs that your body is getting back to balance and it will find its way soon enough. Sometimes we get impatient and we add a lot of stress. We might even set ourselves back.
Yeah. That’s what I see happening a lot, because they’re looking at the wrong thing and not letting the body take its time for whatever healing needs to happen. Sometimes it takes time to get there. So sometimes it just takes awhile and it shows up differently, every body is different. So it’ll do it in its own way. For some people, it will weight loss, but for other people, suddenly their mind is focused and their mood is so much better and they have so much energy. It shows up in different ways and you just have to be aware of that.
The healing journey is not a straight line. So giving ourselves some grace that we’re doing our best. I’m not an advocate of doing something you don’t feel like you can continue to do and do happily. I mean it’s the small things that you can do to really get yourself in a place where you wake up happy and looking forward to life.
Absolutely. So what are some of the things that you would recommend to your clients that are trying to find new ways to manage stress or to turn the dial down? What works for you and what works for your clients?
For my clients, a lot of it is breath work. That’s what I love about it. These are the things that people have been doing since the beginning of time. Of course, now science is saying, “Oh breath work and polyvagal.” But that’s what we’ve been doing with things like yoga, meditation and the idea of connection between the body and mind.
I really believe that we got disconnected from the way our bodies work and function and what it needs on a very, very basic level. So getting out into the sunshine first thing in the morning is super helpful, because a lot of people don’t get out at all. So we’re missing the benefits of vitamin D and getting into nature.
They say that when you’re around trees they do something that is really healing to you physically and emotionally.
In a state of joy and gratitude you can’t be in a state of fight or flight. It just doesn’t happen. That’s why I love doing my gratitude journal. In the past I would have rolled my eyes at that, but just try it. It sounds so simple. I think people dismiss it. I like to do a challenge of five gratitudes in the morning and in the evening, because it sets your day off grateful and it trains your brain to start looking for more positive things. That shifts your whole day, because you start with appreciation. And I like dosing this throughout the day, because it can boost your immune system, your hormones and your blood sugar.
I do my breath work, before I even start my day. I lay in bed and I put a hand to my chest and stomach and I just breath. And it’s amazing, if you give your body what it wants, it will heal and help you be well.
I love breathwork. I’m all for people finding the stress management tools that work for them and not everything works for everybody, but I’m somebody who also likes to know the science. I’m learning about a lot different things and I’m a yoga instructor. Breath work is one of the easiest simplest ways we can control the autonomic nervous system.
Yes! And people aren’t using it. Basically your body’s designed to go into that hyperventilating mode when you’re in fight or flight. But when you’re signaling to your brain, “I’m calm and I’m breathing in a controlled state,” it’s like a switch, you start calming down more. For those who can’t really sit in meditation, that’s what I love about yoga so much. You’re in your body, you’re moving and you’re coordinating that with your breath work.
I’ve got this monkey mind and I’m super energetic and for the longest time, sitting there and meditating and being silent was really hard. But when you start focusing on breathing and give your brain something to do, then your body will take over and relax.
Yoga is definitely meditation in motion and it is what it’s supposed to be. It integrates that calm presence. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to be super bendy and become vegan. Yoga isn’t about perfectionism or being a bretzel, it’s gentle and accepting.
Well, there are a lot of different styles of yoga out there. Some people have bad experiences with one kind or with a teacher that forces them into a position that hurts or isn’t right for their body. Try a different style or visit some other classes. Maybe practice yoga at home or do some of the breathwork exercises, you don’t have to do them with the yoga. You can take out the breath work practise and just do that on its own.
Yeah, I love it. I do breath work before driving and meals. When you’re driving you want to be calm and then you’re giving yourself the ability to produce those enzymes to digest, but you’re also being present and enjoying the food fully and it makes life a lot more fun because you’re here, you’re present.
Breath work is something that is so accessible, so simple, so powerful. And now there is research about it and you just have to try it out yourself to get the benefits.
Yes, absolutely. One of my favorites is just doing square breathing. You breathe in, hold your breath, breathe out and hold your breath all for the same counts. You do it in the same rhythm. You can do it to a count of two or four.
Then there’s also the practice of exhaling longer than you inhale. When you’re exhaling, that’s actually sending the signal to the autonomic nervous system that we’re going into rest and digest right now. You’re calm.
I can always feel that sense of calm start rising up. It’s such a great yummy feeling, because now you’re back in your body and all these good things are happening in your body chemistry. And it’s just because of your breath.
Absolutely. I love these tools.
Yeah. It’s different for everybody. And so sometimes it’s surprising the thing that really sets you off, but everybody has their life experience and different things that trigger that fight or flight response. Some people might look at something and not be triggered at all and somebody will associate some color, scent or something to something bad that happened and get set off.
So just a lot of awareness is really helpful. This is a really good time to be in a place of understanding. We all are in a state of fight or flight right now with the situation of the pandemic. Every single person has had to adapt and change. This is an opportunity to find ways to recalibrate that and turn that dial to the rest and digest state so that we can be more resilient and enjoy our lives more.
Also community is important, the sense of belonging. I think we’re all sort of in our own space, so getting out there and feeling connected with like-minded people in other places is so valuable. Having common things to be passionate about, love or strive for.
I think that’s what’s so powerful about group programs. That’s where I’ve actually always seen the best results for me. I’m a collaborator and being a caregiver,it’s like I try to be there and show up for people. In showing up for others at some point you realize you’re showing up for yourself, because you’re signaling to yourself that you’ve got your own back too. That sense of safety can’t be taken away from you.
I think a lot of us, especially women, live in a state of self-abandonment, because we’re trying to save the world. But it’s really powerful to turn that in towards yourself. We’re so good at taking care of other people. What would happen if we took care of ourselves, so that we can go out into the world and show up stronger.
Just actually taking care of yourself creates more of a sense of self love and understanding. You start finding more patience and compassion for yourself, and then you’re more like yourself, because you’re being good to yourself.
Then you wake up feeling like it’ll be okay, because you’ve got your own back and you’re good at that. We’re really good at that for other people. And once we’re good at that for ourselves, I think we’re more limitless.
I love all of that. I completely agree. It can sometimes seem like this monumental shift, but starts with little steps.
Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me today.
Thank you Dori for all that amazing information!
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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, manage, or treat disease or serious conditions. Always check with your doctor before making any changes. It’s important to consult a well-informed health practitioner for personal advice about your situation before relying on general information — we’re all wonderfully unique.
Laurie Villarreal, FNLP, CHWC, FNS, LMC, CPT, RYT
Hi, I'm Laurie, a functional nutritionist and board certified health coach, athlete, dog-mom, and biohacking adventure-lover. After having struggled for years to find lasting solutions for my own debilitating hormone-related symptoms, I created my online practice to begin helping other active, driven women get the support they need. I now help women around the world elevate their health, energy, business and life by optimizing their hormones with personalized nutrition and lifestyle tweaks. Together, we discover new tools and strategies that keep you showing up at your best so you can play even bigger in your life and work.