6 Tips To Avoid Stress Eating
It’s fair to say that many people turn to food when they are feeling stressed out. It’s a problem for a lot of us, and unfortunately the additional calories we binge on during those stress eats just leave us feeling worse than we did before.
Anyone who has experienced stress eating knows that it isn’t about hunger, it’s about emotions. There is an emotional void inside, or something agitating us that leads to eating in an attempt to soothe that upset.
While some people might be nauseated by food during stress, there are so many that seek comfort in it. Unfortunately, it’s never broccoli or celery sticks that we crave, it’s the unhealthy options that catch our eye. Long term stress results in the body releasing cortisol, the hormone that triggers our appetite. Cortisol also increases our cravings for foods that are sweet, salty, and high in fat- because those are the types of food that result in satisfaction and big bursts of energy.
There are times when stress eating isn’t intentional, but instead we reach for an item of food that gives us pleasure. Habits like that tend to worsen our tendency to stress eat.
Stress affects how we choose our food, and how our body digests them and absorbs the nutrients. Unhealthy choices contribute to stress levels, and those stress levels contribute to choosing the wrong types of food. If this is describing you, then know there are steps to combat your problem.
Poor sleep habits can contribute to stress and emotional eating. It’s important to maintain a regular sleep schedule so you can get eight hours every night. Set a bedtime and stick to it, and set your alarm for the same time every morning, even if it’s a day off. Wagner College’s Department of Psychology led a study that found just how sleep duration and quality can impact on our likelihood to stress eat.
Take A Beat
Stress eating is often mindless- so when you start to feel a craving give yourself time to make the right decision, rather than immediately grabbing a bag of chips or a tub of ice cream.
If you know you’re guilty of stress eating, then you should avoid keeping any “comfort foods” in the house. If you do keep them in the house, rather than keeping large bags of snacks in the home, portion the into individual servings. Alternatively, keep healthy snacks on hand- fruit, celery and carrot sticks and hummus, and for more severe cravings you can turn to plain popcorn, baked chips, and frozen yogurt.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America exercising every day is a great way to reduce stress levels. Reducing stress is great for your energy levels, and mood- which will reduce your need for stress eating.
According to a study from the University of York, meditation is effective in reducing stress eating. It helps to reduce stress levels, as well as encouraging participants to become more mindful about their food choices. It helps prevent the impulse we feel to grab unhealthy snacks. Meditation is one of those miracle practices that actually provides you with an endless list of benefits for mind, body and spirit.
Unfortunately, eating soothes us and that feeling starts at a very young age. There is no need to beat yourself up over it. Not everyone is triggered into stress eating by the same things- so it’s important that you recognize what leads you to stress eat. Give yourself a break and focus on what triggers your stress- getting to the root of the problem will help stop the need to stress eat.