Five simple ways to stop stress eating for good

Eating while stressed is something you may not even be aware of It’s probably happened to you several times. You realise the chocolate bar you had in your hands has now disappeared. Where did it go? You can’t even remember eating it. But your belly reflects by growing more significant than ever before. This is what happens when stress eating takes control. You wake up one morning and realise your clothes are tight; you’re tired and worn out.  Those mindless snacks you’ve indulged in have started to affect the way your body looks and, of course, how you feel. Stress can make us much more susceptible to eating food as a pleasurable escape – a means to get away from the struggles we’re experiencing. Comfort foods seem so inviting when we feel that the control is out of our hands – and the one thing we can turn to is giving ourselves something delicious, warm and makes us feel fantastic. The problem is, this doesn’t last for long and leads to a disaster down the track. Our bodies are built to protect us from the overwhelming effects of stress. Carbs calm our cortisol levels, and it’s pretty easy to start craving the wrong kinds, like potato chips, popcorn, pizza and the like. You can recall how calm you feel after eating something like this. Unfortunately, because cortisol is elevated, the brains sensitivity to food intake is a bit jarred. You may be eating, but your brain doesn’t register the obvious. Therefore, the actual food does not lower your hunger signals (which usually happens after you eat a certain amount). This results in overeating without awareness that they’ve consumed more calories than what is needed. During those highly stressful times in our life, we may make some unkind food choices as well. Plus, if we are working out, stress can hinder our recovery. So when you mix bad nutritional decisions due to anxiety, then not recovering from exercise – it’s a recipe made for disaster. It’s essential to be honest with yourself and understand how you react to stress as an individual.  Once you know your trigger, you have a much better chance of catching it before it gets out of hand. Then, as with any habit, we can set new ones that will help us ease the stress, stop it from getting out of hand and consciously making nutritional choices geared towards health. 

Five quick ways to stop stress eating for good

One: Plan out your meals in advance.

That may mean getting in the kitchen and prepping during the weekend. Make sure your meals contain protein and plenty of vegetables. Healthy carbs are essential, too – such as oats, sweet potatoes and quinoa. There are many apps around that can help you decide on meals catered to what you enjoy eating. 

Two: Don’t go too far with deprivation.

I know you may want to lose weight and change your body shape, but take it one step at a time. First, train yourself to get to the root cause of stress and then look to other strategies like one cheat meal a week and eliminating as many artificial sugars from your diet. Taking on too many changes all at once sets us up for failure because of how overwhelming it can seem 

Three: Drink two glasses of water when hungry

Have mini water drinking competitions with yourself. Drink a couple of glasses before you eat and when you feel hungry. Test your body out because it may be experiencing dehydration rather than actual hunger.  I make sure I drink one litre of water before eating a snack or meal. It keeps me accountable for drinking the right amount of water per day and stops the snack attack. We could all do with less snacking! 

Four:  Eliminate the chance of boredom eating

When you have some extra free time or a break, think about ways to become more active than sitting down. Usually, we get extra bored and believe we are hungry. Instead, make good use of your spare time and get all those house chores done, or find some new hobby that might interest you. I find that taking a walk re-sets my mood and helps me re-focus on what I ought to be doing. It’s also a great distractor. Once you get into the swing of eliminating boredom, snacking won’t come up for you.

Five: Choose filling food options

Fill your plate up with lots of vegetables – of all kinds. Bake them, or eat them raw.Adding healthy fats like avocado and olive oil make a completely delicious and meagre calorie meal. Because vegetables contain fibre and water, you will fill up faster and sustain your hunger for hours. Adding in some protein and fat to the mix makes it an even more complete meal. It’s possibly the most straightforward chance you can make to your nutrition that will help eliminate your appetite and produce weight loss results. Stress eating is not always easy to overcome – but with some conscious steps and uncovering your triggers, you will pave the way to more positive changes in your life. So much of our time is spent doing things that don’t serve us – unconsciously. Now, it’s time to break the cycle and rise above.

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