Stress eating is the one habit that can kill our weight loss goals
I know I talk about stress eating, but it’s so common I needed to mention it again. Stress eating doesn’t just affect you and me, and if Rebel Wilson has it, then there is a big chance a number of us have some form of stress eating habit. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint this because the habit has become so ingrained into our lives that our conscious awareness blocks it. Isn’t it so strange that we can do something obvious to sabotage our health and weight loss goals yet become oblivious to what it is and why we are doing it? We become stuck in a loop of ‘results and failure’ until we spot the issue. It’s not always easy, but we can do this. It’s just a habit that we need to break. The best people to ask about stressful eating habits are students that are about to undertake an exam. David Neal, PhD and his team asked 59 MBA students at the University of California, Los Angeles, what was their go-to snack during midterm exams. The options provided to pick were both from an array of healthy and not-so-healthy choices. Another question the students were asked was how many times they chose this snack during the week. Results showed that students would likely fall back on their habitual snacks during stressful exam periods. It shows that people will naturally resort to their habits under stressful conditions — whether healthy or not. Most stressed-out individuals will choose high-caloric, low-nutrient comfort food every time. Dr Neal says, “Habits are 45 per cent of daily life; they cause us to disregard rational or motivational drivers and instead be cued by context, automated actions, time pressure and low self-control.” Do you find yourself plagued with this habit too? Would food manufacturers help by trying to establish new products for consumers? If you are stressed and lacking motivation, it’s easy to ignore healthy varieties on the shelves and head straight to the ones you eat regularly. But, unfortunately, we’re all missing things that are probably better for us to eat — especially during times of stress and anxiety. As consumers develop the habit of repeatedly choosing the same thing, it will be a tough habit to break — and a lot more intervention is needed if we encourage better nutritional habits amongst the general public. Choosing what to eat on a shelf becomes exceptionally overwhelming when you are overwhelmed by exam stress (or any other stress). Unfortunately, we search for a quick fix when the healthy varieties are in a completely different section and better for us. The reason for one action instead of another is convenience. An apple doesn’t provide the comfortable feeling that a doughnut or bar does. So let’s be honest about that one right from the get-go. The enticing biscuit will be the best option if you put the healthy and junk food choice within reach in a workplace or university setting. It happens within my workplace. Again, this reinforces the lack of nutritional standards in education among our general public. Perhaps the Universities and workplaces should take heart and try to create a course online with exams during an exam or during hectic workload periods to help encourage better habits. How have your workplace or university examination periods hindered your weight loss progression?
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