Choose Foods That Fight Stress
Have you ever wondered why people offer hot tea in emotional situations? It turns out theres more to it than soothing steam. Tea often contains helpful antioxidants. And green tea, matcha tea and white tea contain an amino acid called L-theanine that may help reduce stress levels.
If you tend to snack late at night, try dark cherries. Not only do they offer a sweet treat, but they also help increase natural levels of melatonin to help you sleep. Likewise, salmon and other fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help with sleep.
The list goes on: Dark chocolate , whole grains, nuts,legumes, and fruits and vegetables all have a part to play in maintaining ahealthy mind. The key is stocking up on foods that help with your stress oremotions, and avoiding processed junk that might make you feel worse, Kippensays.
Healthy Sugars Fats And Carbs
Keep in mind that sugar, fats, and carbohydrates arent inherently unhealthy theyre necessary for a well-balanced diet. The problem lies with unhealthy versions of these foods.
Fruits, for example, are a healthy source of sugar. Although fruit sugar isnt healthier than sugar from other sources, fruit provides many healthy nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Many fruits are easily portable, too, which makes them a good option for a healthy snack.
Carbohydrates are similar to sugar. Many processed carbohydrates, like baked goods, have few to no nutrients. If youre still craving carbs, choose whole grain options, like whole-grain bread or pasta. These complex carbs contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and theyll also keep you feeling full for longer. If you enjoy making your own baked goods, use less processed flouts or a blend of processed and unprocessed flours.
Fats also have healthy and unhealthy varieties. Stay away from unhealthy fats like hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils , as well as animal fats. Choose healthy plant oils instead, like olive oil or sunflower oil. Healthier fats will help to feed your cravings while also keeping you on track with your goals.
How To Stop Emotional Eating From Stress
Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.
As anyone whos watching their weight will tell you that hunger is just one of many reasons that people eat. Those with a tendency toward emotional eating are especially vulnerable to making poor choices.
If youre an emotional eater, you may find yourself eating to deal with uncomfortable emotions, using food as a reward when youre happy, and craving sweets or unhealthy snacks when stressed. Dont worryyoure not alone! The following ideas can help you to cut down emotional eating and develop healthier eating habits, even when you’re stressed.
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Accept Your Situation By Meditation
Ever considered meditating your way through a bad mood?
If so, fantastic meditation can be a powerful tool to help you deal with the sudden stressors and anxieties that we encounter on a day-to-day basis.
Meditation forces you to sit back, relax, and better recognize, accept and embrace the inner workings of your mind.
In other words, it prevents you from impulsively resorting to a binge whenever something stressful is going on or when something doesnt go according to plan.
So whenever you notice a sudden shift in mood states, feel an overwhelming sense of stress, or take a hit to your self-esteem, try to resort to a small session of meditation.
There are so many excellent meditation apps out there, freely available for you to download.
Do this meditation session either before or after youve problem solved your way through these negative experiences.
It will keep you grounded and, with enough practice, prevent the urge to binge.
Stick To A Regular Meal Schedule
Rather than eating at unplanned times or allowing your body to go for long periods of time without food, try adhering to a meal schedule. Thoughtfully space your meals out over the course of each day to keep your blood sugar stable and hunger levels at bay.
When you are satiated with nutritious foods, you are less likely to wind up craving sweets and succumbing to stress eating.
Maintain a normal eating schedule every day and consume healthy, filling foods to ensure your body gets both the calories and the nutrients it needs to feel content. These foods could include:
- Beans, lentils, and chickpeas
- Unsalted nuts
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How Can You Manage Stress Eating
1. Practice mindful eating. Know that your craving may be a result of a stressful event, and then ask yourself, are you truly hungry? Wait a few minutes before eating.
2. Find healthier options. If you still feel the need for a snack, consider a lower-calorie, lower-fat option than what you may have previously chosen. Here are some healthy snacks I enjoy:
- Something sweet: Cut up an apple and spread some nut butter on it. The combination of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat should help curb your appetite and satisfy your need for a sweet.
- Something savory: Consider adding hummus to deviled eggs for a lower-calorie, high-protein snack option.
3. Watch portion size. Instead of taking the whole box with you, put a snack-size amount on a plate. Check the package to see what one serving size is, and try to stick to that.
Its always a good idea to consult your doctor or a dietitian when you make changes to your diet.
This article is written by Erin Gager, R.D., L.D.N., a dietitian at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.
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How To Stop Stress Eating
When youre in the throes of a stressful situation, just about any healthy distraction like going for a walk, getting fresh air, doing a quick guided meditation or calling a friend can help you avoid the draw of junk food, Baten says. Drinking water may also help, since people often confuse hunger and thirst.
But in the long-term, getting at the root cause of your stress is more important than stopping yourself from snacking in the moment. Healthy habits like exercise, sleep and proper nutrition are all sustainable stress relievers, Baten says. And if you consistently struggle with emotional or stress eating, Baten says, it may be worth speaking with a professional, who can help you sort out underlying issues.
Its important to pay attention to our feelings before they become so intensified that we cant think clearly, Baten says. Emotional eating is happening because theres an emotional need that isnt being fulfilled.
But its also important to acknowledge that your emotions will win out from time to time and beating yourself up for occasionally choosing comfort food will only add to your stress.
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Common Causes Of Emotional Eating
Stress. Ever notice how stress makes you hungry? Its not just in your mind. When stress is chronic, as it so often is in our chaotic, fast-paced world, your body produces high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and fried foodsfoods that give you a burst of energy and pleasure. The more uncontrolled stress in your life, the more likely you are to turn to food for emotional relief.
Stuffing emotions. Eating can be a way to temporarily silence or stuff down uncomfortable emotions, including anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, resentment, and shame. While youre numbing yourself with food, you can avoid the difficult emotions youd rather not feel.
Boredom or feelings of emptiness. Do you ever eat simply to give yourself something to do, to relieve boredom, or as a way to fill a void in your life? You feel unfulfilled and empty, and food is a way to occupy your mouth and your time. In the moment, it fills you up and distracts you from underlying feelings of purposelessness and dissatisfaction with your life.
Social influences. Getting together with other people for a meal is a great way to relieve stress, but it can also lead to overeating. Its easy to overindulge simply because the food is there or because everyone else is eating. You may also overeat in social situations out of nervousness. Or perhaps your family or circle of friends encourages you to overeat, and its easier to go along with the group.
Stress Eating Vs Boredom Eating
Stress eating is about satisfying cortisol’s needs, whereas boredom eating is literally just eating to break up the monotony of being bored, eating out of habit, or eating because is available, says Mastela. “It’s really tough to distinguish the two, but stress eating may feel like a more intense craving for something, boredom eating is more ‘eating because it’s there.'”
“In my opinion, we eat for many reasons outside of just ‘physical hunger,'” , says Hayim. “I call all the different reasons we eat ‘types of hunger’ because I believe in radical permission to honor the desire to eat in order to maintain the mind-body connection.”
This “types of hunger” system isn’t exclusive to Hayim but rather is adopted by many pros who encourage mindful eating. Some other examples include mouth hunger or memory hunger , or curiosity hunger , she says. “And all of those are valid reasons to eat!”
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Find A Simple Distraction
“With both boredom and stress, the best thing you can do to avoid eating for the wrong reasons is to get a change of scenery, says Mastela. Get some fresh air, go for a walk, do something different, read a book.
“If I’m feeling like I’m about to eat for the wrong reasons, I paint a clear coat on my nails because painting your nails is actually quite calming and can distract you from a stressor, while giving you something specific to do so you’re not bored, and your nails will be wet, making it harder to eat ,” she says.
Make An Activity List
“Write a to-do list filled with both productive and fun things, like tidying up an area of your house, calling a friend to check in, putting together a puzzle, completing a five-minute online workout video, etc.,” says McIntyre. This strategy works whether you’re stressed or bored. “Pick two things to accomplish, then reassess if you need to eat. If you’re bored, you’ll be in a more productive or motivated mindset to move on to something else that doesn’t involve eating!”
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When Is It Time To Get Professional Help For Stress Eating
Worried that your “stress eating” might be verging on disordered eating? It might be hard to tell because disordered eating might seem “normal” by society’s standards, and this self-awareness is not as common as it should be, says Mastela.
There are many factors to consider when trying to determine what you’re dealing with, including the type of stress. “For example, someone who just lost a loved one is a very different, specific case compared to someone who was sexually abused, which is different from someone under stress at work, which is different from someone with clinical depression,” she says. “Every person is unique, every stressor is unique, so putting your stress response into a bucket and saying ‘you need help when _____’ isn’t how I personally treat patients.”
She notes that, if you’re concerned, one of the best things you can do is go to a “credentialed registered dietitian who specializes in eating disorders.” “There are no negative effects of talking to a registered dietitian or a therapist so, if you’re on the fence or unsure if it’s a problem, there is no harm just talking to a therapist about it, and nipping it in the bud,” says Mastela.
There is one a general rule of thumb Mastela uses she advises seeking help if any of the following instances apply to you:
Alternatives To Stress Eating
If you want to know how to deal with stress without eating, there are plenty of things you can do instead:
- Do 5-10 minutes yoga : Connecting with yourself and your body dampens the need for outside sources of comfort.
- Walk or run outside: Sunlight instantly reduces stress and gives us a different form of energywith no calories. It doesnt matter if its just a walk around the block or a full 5k, any time outside is helpful.
- Connect with family and friends: Were wired for human contact and most of us dont get enough. When youre feeling stressed, pick up the phone and call someone who cares about you.
- Try a puzzle, boardgame, knitting, or anything creative: It may not give you the buzz of a candy bar but these activities lower cortisol and bring about feelings of peace.
- Dance and sing to your favorite songs: Music and dance are perhaps the best mood-lifters out there.
- Take a bath: If you make the time, a hot bath can really help ground and relax you.
- Journal: Write down how youre feeling. Getting it down on paper can bring genuine relief.
At the end of the day, anything that brings you joy or helps get your mind off the stress will help.
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Drink A Glass Of Water
“Oftentimes when we stress eat, we aren’t even really hungry. So instead of going to the fridge or cabinet, head to the faucet instead,” says Luther. “Fill up a glass of water, add a squeeze of lemon or a couple of frozen berries. Enjoy the glass of water and allow the urge to stress eat diffuse.” Speaking of lemon waterâ¦ have you read about What Happens To Your Body When You Drink Lemon Water Every Day?
Reduce A Worrys Power Over You
One very effective way to reduce a worrys power over you is by getting the negative thoughts out of your head and on to paper. Being able to see the worry in black and white helps give you more perspective.
Study your worries by keeping a Worry Diary.
Write down what you fear might happen and then later write down if what you were worried about actually happened, whether it was as bad as you expected, and what you did to cope with the situation.
This will help you understand your worries better, distinguish between worries that are useful and those that are useless, and help you realize that you can cope no matter what happens.
- Set aside some time during the day to worry your worry time. Select a time every day that is convenient for you and pick a suitable amount of time to worry . Use this time to think about your worries and about possible resolutions. It can be helpful to write things down. It will take time to train yourself not to dwell on worries at other times of the day or night.
- Practice is key here. What you can do if you worry outside of the set aside time is to write the worry down and put it in a worry box . Then, when its your official worry time, you can look at your worries and deal with them appropriately.
I hope you find these 6 tips useful. If you would like to read more about ways to overcome anxiety and worrying please take a look at my free booklet.
When clients first come in to see me, the main concerns that come up again and again are:
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How To Relieve Stress Without Overeating
When stress affects someone’s appetite and waistline, the individual can forestall further weight gain by ridding the refrigerator and cupboards of high-fat, sugary foods. Keeping those “comfort foods” handy is just inviting trouble.
Here are some other suggestions for countering stress:
Meditation. Countless studies show that meditation reduces stress, although much of the research has focused on high blood pressure and heart disease. Meditation may also help people become more mindful of food choices. With practice, a person may be able to pay better attention to the impulse to grab a fat- and sugar-loaded comfort food and inhibit the impulse.
Exercise. While cortisol levels vary depending on the intensity and duration of exercise, overall exercise can blunt some of the negative effects of stress. Some activities, such as yoga and tai chi, have elements of both exercise and meditation.
Social support. Friends, family, and other sources of social support seem to have a buffering effect on the stress that people experience. For example, research suggests that people working in stressful situations, like hospital emergency departments, have better mental health if they have adequate social support. But even people who live and work in situations where the stakes aren’t as high need help from time to time from friends and family.
How To Stop Stress Eating Or Eating When You’re Bored
First, figure out which one you’re experiencing. “Only you can tell the difference between when you’re stress eating or eating out of boredom. Take a moment to tune into your body to find out which it is,” says Bri Bell, RD, a registered dietitian at Frugal Minimalist Kitchen. “Either way, it’s perfectly normal and OK to eat due to stress or boredom or any other emotion on occasion. Beating yourself up about it only adds to the stressful emotions!”
“That being said, don’t let eating become your only way of coping with emotions,” says Bell. “Just like having a glass of wine after a stressful day is perfectly fine on occasion, but becomes problematic when relied too heavily upon.”
Bell recommends making the majority of coping strategies health-promoting, such as “exercising, talking to friends and family, getting out in nature, listening to music or doing a hobby.” Try out these tips.
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