Do you need more stress in order to eat well?

Ilona Madden - RightFood4U - Nutrition Programmes - Bray Wicklow Dublin

Written by Ilona Madden

March 31, 2022

Do you need more stress in order to eat well?

“I know exactly what to do, but I just need a pull myself together!”

Many people think that once “they pull themselves together” or find the right moment, the right time, the right place – then, they will start following a better diet.

Let me use the “optimal performance scale” tool to show you how this tool not only applies to your performance at work but also to your “performance” in following a healthy lifestyle.

I hear from many people that they are just TOO stressed at the moment to eat well. Mainly, because they don’t have the time to plan their shopping and their meals, or they don’t have the time to cook from scratch.

Being stressed usually happens because we are over-stimulated for a long period of time. We have no time to find the “switch-off” button, and constantly feel “on”. It feels that the demands are constant, usually from other people, commitments, work, etc. And taking time to plan a meal or cook from scratch just doesn’t fit into the busy plan.

However, the opposite can be true as well. I don’t mean “having too much time”, but rather not being stimulated enough, as opposed to being over-stimulated.

Have a look at this chart below. (Arousal might not be a fortunate word, I prefer stimulation). Quite often, when we are in the green zone of stimulation, we tend to procrastinate. If there is no urgency to get something done, many people, leave it be.

It’s also a good time though to relax, refresh and come up with new, creative ideas. It is important to be in the green zone as often as possible, but sometimes productivity can lag behind.

When you are on your own trying to stick to a healthy eating plan, it is easy to fall into the green zone, of lesser performance. Excuses creep it. “I’m not really too bad”, “I’ll start next week” “A sure, a little bit of cake won’t make any difference” “You need a bit of wine to relax every now and again”.

If the “motivation” or “need for change” was not strong enough, or it became less strong – it is easy to fall back into the green zone.

On the other hand, if someone gets too stressed out over trying to do everything 100% and gets pushed into the red zone, it can be detrimental too. Often, the result is: “This healthy eating is just not for me” “I’ve tried every diet on the planet and nothing is working.”


Well, first of all, I suggest we look at people who have high performance on a regular basis: They all have some sort of support!

Most business owners work with business coaches and mentors.

Athletes have a team of coaches and experts around them.

Many people benefit from life and health coaches.

A good coach will reward your effort and not just your results. A good coach will encourage you and support you on your journey. This applies for healthy eating just as much as in business and fitness. When you try to follow healthy eating guidelines on your own, you are often your own worse critic. A coach sees your potential and turns what you might see as a challenge into an opportunity.


When I work with my clients, I LISTEN, and through active listening, open questions and the right coaching tools, together we work out what the real goals are, and what the potential pitfalls are.

I will keep pushing my clients a little bit out of their comfort zone to bring them into that yellow zone of peak performance: a little pushing to get rid of old habits, asking for commitments in between our sessions, such as writing a food and mood diary. And often, it’s just the regular check-ins that are sufficient motivation.

I also avoid pushing them into the RED zone of stress. Many people actually go into the RED when they try to work it out themselves. They go through cruelling exercise regimes in the gym that they don’t even enjoy. They push themselves in every free minute. They follow diet regimes that often leave them without the necessary nutrients and that push them more into stress.

It’s not working because they approach it in a STRESSED state of mind. But often, they blame themselves then and make it even worse.

If you feel you could do so much better but feel you are constantly in either the green or the red zone, why not give me a call or book in a Health&Energy review with me?

This will give you some clarity of where you are at the moment and where you want to or where you actually CAN be. Only once you have this clarity can you actually start to make changes and see results very quickly. I can point you in the direction of what support would suit you, and that can be either with me or with other health practitioners. Sometimes, the little chat to get clarity is all that is needed.

Please send me an email or book your appointment here:

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