Do you turn to food when you are stressed? Do you use food as a source of comfort?
You are not alone. Many of us turn to comfort food when we feel stress or overwhelmed. Work stress, juggling a career and raising kids, money worries and juggling additional responsibilities causes untold stress to many.
Although some people eat less in the face of strong emotions, if you’re in emotional distress you might turn to impulsive or binge eating, quickly consuming whatever’s convenient without enjoyment.
In fact, your emotions can become so tied to your eating habits that you automatically reach for a treat whenever you’re angry or stressed without thinking about what you’re doing.
Food also serves as a distraction. If you’re worried about finances or stewing over an argument you’ve just had with your partner, you may focus on eating comfort food instead of dealing with the painful situation.
Whatever emotions drive you to overeat, the end result is often the same. The effect is temporary, the emotions return and you likely then bear the additional burden of guilt about setting back your weight-loss goal. This can also lead to an unhealthy cycle — your emotions trigger you to overeat, you beat yourself up for getting off your weight-loss track, you feel bad and you overeat again.
When negative emotions threaten to trigger emotional eating, you can take steps to control cravings. Stress eating can ruin your weight loss goals – the key is to find ways to relieve stress without overeating.
Here we have come up with 10 key steps to help you manage your stress eating
Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you’re feeling when you eat and how hungry you are. Over time, you might see patterns that reveal the connection between mood and food.
Calm your stress. If stress contributes to your emotional eating, try a stress management technique, such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing.
Have a hunger reality check. Is your hunger physical or emotional? If you ate just a few hours ago and don’t have a rumbling stomach, you’re probably not hungry. Give the craving time to pass.
Get support. You’re more likely to give in to emotional eating if you lack a good support network. Lean on family and friends or consider joining a support group.
Fight boredom. Instead of snacking when you’re not hungry, distract yourself and substitute a healthier behavior. Take a walk, watch a film, play with your pet, listen to music, read, surf the internet or call a friend.
Take away temptation. Don’t keep hard-to-resist comfort foods in your home. And if you feel angry or blue, postpone your trip to the supermarket until you have your emotions in check.
Don’t deprive yourself. When trying to lose weight, you might limit calories too much, eat the same foods repeatedly and banish treats. This may just serve to increase your food cravings, especially in response to emotions. Eat satisfying amounts of healthier foods, enjoy an occasional treat and get plenty of variety to help curb cravings.
Snack healthy. If you feel the urge to eat between meals, choose a healthy snack, such as fresh fruit, vegetables with low-fat dip, nuts or unbuttered popcorn. Or try lower calorie versions of your favorite foods to see if they satisfy your craving.
Train! Exercising is a great stress reliever. Make time to workout, exercise increases our endorphins our happy hormone. Strength training is a great way to increase endorphins and help us keep our stress in check.
Learn from setbacks. If you have an episode of emotional eating, forgive yourself and start fresh the next day. Try to learn from the experience and make a plan for how you can prevent it in the future. Focus on the positive changes you’re making in your eating habits and give yourself credit for making changes that’ll lead to better health.
At Steelextreme we understand these stresses and part of our service is offering nutrition management to help you stay on track during these difficult times. Get in touch with us today to arrange a FREE consultation.