Start Eliminating Stress Eating
Many people get overcome with stressful situations and turn towards stress eating. A carton of ice cream, a pizza, or a bag of chips… can snowball into some serious calories and health effects. Check out how to start eliminating stress eating today!
How to Control Stress Eating?
According to the founder of Seattle’s Mindful Nutrition, dietitian Minh-Hai Alex, it is perfectly natural for a human being to avoid pain and find relief.
That’s why some people find eating as a relief, especially when they want to disconnect from a stressful moment.
Stress eating is basically like changing a channel in your brain to alter your feelings.
Why does one turn to food in a moment of stress?
Psychologist Dr. Melissa McCreery, who is an authority on emotional eating, says that stress actually makes your adrenal glands produce cortisol, an enzyme that increases your appetite. Stress furthermore interferes with the appetite-regulating hormone, ghrelin, making you feel like eating even more.
Thankfully, emotional eating can be reduced or regulated. You can even break the habit altogether. It is not an easy process though, but with practice, stress eating can be stopped. Your main goal should be to rewire your brain to adopt other non-eating habits for comfort. Here are three practical ways to eliminate stress eating:
1. Identify and be aware of the problem
In most cases, stress eating simply builds upon you automatically without your awareness. Before you fall too deep into this behavior, take time to evaluate your eating habits to determine if you really do stress eat or not. A practical way of doing this is to create a food journal.
Find out and write down where and when you suspect to be stress eating. Do you eat when emotionally disturbed at the office or late at night?
Do you always feel like grabbing a bite of something when you are alone? Write down any out-of-normal eating patterns you notice in your life.
Whenever you eat, stop and ask yourself how physically hungry you feel on a scale of 1 to 10. If your physical hunger falls between 6 and 10 then you are indeed hungry, but anything less, for instance, 2 or 3, is a clear indication that you are stress eating and should do something about it.
2. Replace stress eating with another activity
Once you have identified that you do indeed eat to take away stress, find another activity to replace food. The easiest way of doing it is by writing down a practical list of all the non-calorie healthy things that give you that much-needed pick-me-up feeling you get from eating. Depending on your personality and preferences there are many activities that can work. Here are a few suggestions:
- Find a healthy one-minute fix such as sipping black tea when the urge to eat strikes. A study published in Psychopharmacology showed that subjects who took black tea had a 47% decrease in cortisol levels. Cortisol for your information is a stress hormone responsible for food cravings in most people suffering from stress eating.
- Try other non-eating activities instead. To some people, a gentle foot rub takes away stress better than a snack, while others find quick breathing exercises quite soothing. Meditation also helps to overcome emotional eating.
3. Learn techniques to manage and reduce stress
Researchers in the Journal of Obesity found that women who followed the techniques taught in mindfulness intervention found better ways to manage and reduce their stress, rather than out eating it.
The study found that women who used these techniques were less likely to stress eat and lost more fat around the belly than the control group. In particular, the techniques focus on discovering a new perspective, a deeper meaning of words, a more the tuned feeling of breathing, and a fresh way to awaken your senses.
4. Keep yourself busy
Keep your hands busy and away from food when the urge to eat strikes, especially during the night. You can always do productive things or chores such as laundry which keeps both hands busy and the mind otherwise occupied.
According to WebMed, taking short walks, calling a close friend or relative for a chat, finding an interesting game to play, and even just taking a nap will help you overcome stress eating.
It’s all about implementing easy strategies to take your mind off of stressful situations and therefore stress eating!
A busy mind is a less stressed mind.