3 Hacks to Combat Stress Eating
The summer season is unwinding and that means the end of summer vacations and the beginning of back-to-school season. Whether you’re juggling work and children in school or pursuing your own education, this time of year can be stressful for many adults. And the most common way most people choose to deal with stress is with food! From a quick donut on the way to drop off your kids at school to a heavy lunch after a stressful work meeting, stress eating adds on unnecessary pounds and negatively impacts your energy levels. Here are 3 hacks to combat stress eating.
1.) Take a time out: Often when we’re stressed, we automatically respond to feelings of hunger with food. But emotional hunger and actual hunger cues are two different things. That’s why it’s important to take a time out and stop and analyze your feelings and actions before automatically reaching for a pint of ice cream. Take a few minutes and ask yourself, Is my hunger is originating from my stomach or my mind? When is the last time I ate? What do I REALLY need right now? After spending a couple of mindful moments examining the source of your hunger, you’ll be better prepared to make a thoughtful choice about whether and what to eat.
2.) Choose an alternate food: Say you’re craving something salty and crunchy and all you can think about is having a big bag of chips. It’s possible that eating something else salty and crunchy will suffice—maybe a few pieces of celery sprinkled with taco seasoning or air-popped popcorn dusted with chili powder. If you’re craving something sweet, instead of cookies, fruit with dark chocolate may satisfy your craving and is a much healthier choice. There’s no reason you can’t satisfy a craving with a healthier option instead. You’ll feel better physically and emotionally too.
3.) Try a substitute soother: Emotional hunger can have you running to the fridge to eat anything that will soothe your stress. Feeling bored, stressed, fatigued or frustrated can cause you to seek comfort in the arms of a candy bar. But sometimes a substitute soother will do the trick. Boredom can be addressed by taking the time to call a friend or family member to reconnect. Fatigue can be tackled by taking a short walk. Stress and frustration can benefit from a ten minute meditation, or all of the above. Make a list of all the non-food ways to relieve stress and tension to have on hand and call upon whenever your first impulse is to eat something unhealthy.
Gaining control of your food cravings and learning to combat stress eating will help you to develop a much- needed healthy relationship with food. Most importantly, don’t blame yourself for giving into food cravings or accuse yourself of having no willpower. When it comes to stress eating, it’s all about finding healthy ways to cope with the emotions that make you turn to food. If you’d like to learn more about emotional eating or if you’d like to start taking control of your eating habits, please contact Right Nutrition Works today!
Prajakta Apte, RDN
Right Nutrition Works