Adjust Your Meal Proportions
If there’s a chance that you’ll burn fewer calories in the hours after eating due to stress, shift your servings a bit to slash calories without having to eat less food. For example, eating one and a half cups of mixed veggies and a half cup of brown rice instead of one cup of each can save you 60-75 calories. Or instead of one cup of quinoa, mix half of that with half a cup of spinach to save about 100 calories.
I think you see where I’m going with this. Trading in a portion of your dense grains, even healthy ones, for low-cal, fiber- and water-rich veggies is the easiest way to accomplish a quick calorie savings that doesn’t require sacrificing volume.
What Causes Stress Eating
Stress doesnt affect everyones appetite the same way. For some people, stress can actually cause them to ignore hunger cues and stop eating for periods of time. Then there are those who become stress eaters.
One of the major culprits when it comes to stress eating is cortisol. This stress hormone causes cravings for foods that are full of sugar, fat and salt.
One of the major culprits when it comes to stress eating is cortisol. This stress hormone causes cravings for foods that are full of sugar, fat and salt. Thats because the brain is trying to get the fuel it needs to fight the threat it perceives as causing stress. Its the fight or flight approach.
Reach Out For Support
If you think you might have extreme or unhealthy responses to stress, consider going to a trusted family member, friend or counselor for help. Having a strong support system is key for dealing with negative emotions and getting through difficult situations. You don’t have to face emotional eating alone speak with a healthcare professional if you think you have a more serious stress eating problem.
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What Are Some Of The Causes Of Emotional Eating
- Boredom: We all have different definitions of boredom, but it usually focuses around having nothing to do or the task we are doing just seems pointless. This can leave us searching for something to pass the time by, enticing us to eat and potentially leading to emotional eating.
- Old habits: Maybe your work colleagues would order fast food for the office for lunch every day, and even though you’re in a new job now, you still find yourself ordering fast food several times a day. I always say that habits are learned, which means they can be unlearned and replaced with a new, healthier habit.
- Finances, work stress, and social interactions: Too much or too little social interaction can influence our cravings. If you’re pent up with your spouse or roommates, and they tend to eat a lot of junk food, you may be tempted to do so as well. Maybe after a big blowout fight you feel the need to eat lots of sugar, or perhaps you just feel lonely and a warm cookie feels like a big hug at the end of the stressful work day. This is all fine if you truly listen to your body, honor your cravings, and feel in control. But if stress seems to be leading your emotions to get the best of you and resulting in poor food choices over and over again, it may be time to make a change. Food is food it’s not your best friend and it’s not your worst enemy. If you’re looking to food to solve your problems, you’ll quickly realize it won’t.
Stress Eating Hormones And Hunger
Stress also seems to affect food preferences. Numerous studies granted, many of them in animals have shown that physical or emotional distress increases the intake of food high in fat, sugar, or both. High cortisol levels, in combination with high insulin levels, may be responsible. Other research suggests that ghrelin, a “hunger hormone,” may have a role.
Once ingested, fat- and sugar-filled foods seem to have a feedback effect that dampens stress related responses and emotions. These foods really are “comfort” foods in that they seem to counteract stress and this may contribute to people’s stress-induced craving for those foods.
Of course, overeating isn’t the only stress-related behavior that can add pounds. Stressed people also lose sleep, exercise less, and drink more alcohol, all of which can contribute to excess weight.
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Snuggle Kiss Or Hug Someone You Love
A strong support network is a great way to beat stress during a rough time. One study shows that social support is a hugely effective stress management mechanism with students learning to cope with stress. Another study showed that frequent hugs from a partner can lower blood pressure. Kick-start that support by cuddling up with someone you love. Knowing someone is there is often enough to help you manage your stress more effectively.
Tips To Stop Stress Eating At Night
Many people tend to stress eat at night and this may be due to a number of factors. Daytime stress can affect your body by causing it to release hormones like cortisol which increase appetite with a preference for comfort food. Studies also conclude that afternoon and evening may be a high-risk period for overeating especially when stress is involved.
The following tips can help you focus on how to stop stress eating at night:
- Eat a healthy snack in the evening that contains protein.
- Find an activity you can do in the evening that occupies your hands like knitting, drawing, or even cleaning!
- Be sure to eat adequately during the day.
- Get a good night of sleep by creating a bedtime routine that includes creating a peaceful ambiance in your room and going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day.
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Find Video Clips On Youtube That Make You Laugh
In addition to boosting your immune system, memory, aerobic endurance, and creativity levels, laughter has been shown to reduce stress hormone levels. Along with that, laughter helps relax tension in the muscles, promote blood flow to the brain, and move more air through the lungs to deliver a cleansing effect similar to deep breathing. A simple way to get in a good laugh is to watch funny Youtube video clips. My favorite ones that get me every time come from the Talking Animals Youtube channel. If youre an animal lover, youre really appreciate these!
Check If You’re Really Hungry
If you just ate a big meal and are still reaching for snacks, ask yourself: Are you hungry, or are your emotions causing the cravings? You may want to do something different until the urge passes, like take a walk or call a friend. Or you could try to drink some water. Your body may be trying to tell you its dehydrated.
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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.
Tips To Help You Beat Stress Eating
There are usually things that trigger stress eating. The first step is to be mindful of those triggers and arm yourself with ways to be aware of and fight the urge to eat because youre stressed. Here are a few tactics that may help.
- Know your triggers. Understand the reasons you may be eating from stress. Pay attention to when and why youre eating. Do you reach for something sweet or salty after an argument with a family member or coworker? Are you anxious after watching the evening news? Are you really hungry or are you reacting to a situation? Take a brief break to pay attention to your feelings at that moment. When youre more aware of triggers, it may help keep you from eating too much the next time.
Foods with B vitamins can help relieve stress by affecting brain cells and nerves. Stock up on B-rich foods such as avocados, bananas, chicken, fish and dark green, leafy veggies.
Also Check: What Do You Do When Your Stressed
Reduce Your Phone Usage
Who would have thought your mobile phone could cause stress?
Research shows that overuse of mobile phones not only causes stress, but can also have a negative impact on your mental health.
So its time to get smart about your smartphone.
Here are a few things you could try:
- Check your social media feeds just once or twice a day.
- Turn off all notifications.
- Put your phone on airplane mode, or better still, switch it off after 9pm.
If youre still struggling, there are fun apps designed to help you ignore your mobile phone and focus on studying for your exams, such as Forest.
When you want to concentrate, you can plant a seed in Forest, which will take 30 minutes to grow. But if you get distracted and leave the app, your tree will wither and die.
Young Americans Are Even More Stressed Than Other Generations
Stress is rampant and it’s making us feel sick, exhausted, and reach for the wrong foods to feel better, according to the latest research. All ages of Americans have been “profoundly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” reports a recent APA survey. The current stress levels Americans are feeling are causing “real consequences on our minds and bodies,” the report states: “We are facing a national mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come, the APA report concludes.
Nearly 3 in 4 Americans are suffering stress due to the uncertain future, an all-time high for this survey. The hardest hit, Gen Z adults are experiencing a pivotal time in their adulthood when the future looks uncertain, the report found. Older Americans are more likely to be able to tell themselves: This too shall pass.
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Skip The Mac And Cheese And Cookies And Reach For One Of These Healthy Foods When Feeling Down
Macaroni and cheese, chocolate chip cookies, fried chicken, ice creamthese are some of the foods women turn to for comfort when we’re feeling emotionally strained, depleted or depressed.
These foods can make us feel better for a few minutes, until the negative mood swings back into action. That’s often a result of the way certain foods raise and lower blood sugar or disrupt our bodily systems in other ways. Eating too much of one type of food or not enough of a certain nutrient can have both short- and long-term effects on mood.
Yet there are terrific foods that bring real, long-lasting comfort when we are at risk of, or struggling with, stress or depression. Reaching for a banana topped with almond butter instead of a cookie can begin a simple, life-altering shift that may help you ward off mood problems as well as lessen the impact if they do occur.
“The choice you make at the plate absolutely influences how you’re going to feel,” says Kathie Swift, MS, RD, LDN, co-director of the Food as Medicine program of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, DC. “Food is a very powerful modifier when it comes to depression and the brain.”
Magnesium for mood
Gail Platts of Gorham, Maine, discovered the power of using food to help with mood when she was in college and interested in natural ways to manage anxiety and depression. She started eating more sunflower seeds, fish and other magnesium-rich foods, because she read they could help.
Opt for omega-3 foods
Learn How To Be Okay With Being Bored
We live in such a fast-paced world where instant gratification is the norm that its easy to forget what its like to just stop and just be.
Sometimes, being bored is okay.
You dont have to be doing something every minute of every day. Take the time to just do nothing every once in a while.
Embrace being disconnected and having the time to relax, embrace being able to do nothing but just enjoy the present.
Embrace being still.
Who knows, you might really come to value these moments.
Also Check: How To Relax And Stop Stressing
How Does Stress Affect Your Appetite
Studies show that women with high chronic stress levels tend to engage in emotional eating. In addition to psychological responses to stress, there may also be physiological responses. During a stressful event, the body releases cortisol, a hormone that helps the body protect itself. However, if cortisol levels are elevated for a prolonged period of time, such as during repeated and constant stressors, this can lead to increased food consumption, fat storage and weight gain.
Set Up Your Environment For Success
Put tempting foods behind closed cabinets or up high where you aren’t as likely to see them. In contrast, store healthy foods in see-through containers. It may sound silly, but research finds keeping healthier food in plain sight and less-healthy treats out of sight can help you choose healthier options more frequently. You might not be able to control the fact that you’re stressed, but you can create an environment where you’re less likely to turn to food.
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Why Restrictive Food Rules Don’t Always Solve Emotional Eating
Kilpatrick says that the two main reasons addressing emotional eating with restrictive food rules just doesn’t work for most people are:
“If I asked you about all of the areas of your life where you successfully exhibit self-control, you’d likely have quite a list going by the time you were done,” says Kilpatrick. “The reality is that, most of the time, emotional eating has nothing to do with a lack of self-control. In fact, you probably have plenty of it! And since food rules are all about encouraging self-control, it’s not surprising that they don’t always solve emotional eating in the long run.”
And, when it comes to emotional eating, the habit of eating usually isn’t the problem, either. Remember, eating is human nature! Wanting comfort food is human nature! Instead, the real issue is the uncomfortable emotion you’re feeling that’s causing you to turn to food as a coping mechanism.
“Unless you target the underlying emotion that’s causing you to eat in a way that’s productive and that actually addresses the emotion itself you’re more likely to continue to find yourself struggling to overcome emotional eating,” says Kilpatrick.
Relieve Your Stress In Other Ways To Reduce Mindless Eating
If you dont have a legitimate biological need to eat, its best not to eat. Regardless of how tough you are, you must deal with the stress thats pushing you to eat, or youll eventually fail. Youll eventually give in if you dont find something else to do. Some stress-relieving ideas are:
Stroll Toward Relaxation!
Stress-related eating is very common, but that doesnt mean you have to allow stress to affect the way you eat. Stress affects the way you feel compelled to eat, but you can learn how to stop mindless eating and choose to eat mindfully instead. Mindful eating is a way to combat stress-related eating and its negative effects on your diet and health.
When you eat mindfully, by paying attention to what you eat, you get more pleasure with fewer calories. ~ Dean Ornish
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I Reach For Food When I Feel Upset: Why
Emotional eating is exactly what you think it is: eating when youre not hungry, but as a result of how youre feeling be it anger, stress, sadness, anxiety or joy. Perhaps youre trying to escape from a particular situation or feeling, or want to feel soothed, or maybe you have a need to emphasise occasions through food.
According to Beat, there are a few main differences between emotional and physical hunger:
Emotional hunger comes on suddenly physical hunger is gradual.
Youll feel the need to be satisfied instantly if its emotional eating.
Emotional hunger leads to cravings especially those high in fat and sugar.
You wont feel satisfied even with a full, bloated stomach if your emotions are involved.
Post emotional eating, youll feel feelings of guilt, shame and powerless.
Typical signs include eating in secret, hiding food packaging, buying more food than you need and being isolated. And you know those inner voices in your head the ones that say things like Go on, itll make you feel better and You havent eaten that much today, why not? Those are your emotions talking.
Its perhaps not surprising that women affected by emotional eating, typically have a negative body image of themselves, and may also experience symptoms of anxiety or depression.