Successfully Managing Stress May Help Control Weight
While stress is an inevitable part of life for many people, the weight gain that can accompany it isnt. Changing your response to stress and adopting strategies to reduce it can keep the numbers on your scale from moving in the wrong direction, says Dr. Stanford.
These five strategies may help:
Burn off tension. Exercise is a crucial component of stress management, because physical activity can actually reduce cortisol levels. But you will find excuses to avoid workouts if you dread them. Finding an activity you love your “soulmate workout,” as Dr. Stanford calls it can help you maintain the regular physical activity you need in order to dissolve daily stress. For some people it might be yoga, for others, high-intensity exercise or a combination of the two.
Prioritize sleep. A lack of sleep can increase the amount of stress hormones circulating in your body. So ensuring you get enough restful slumber is crucial to managing stress effectively. “Avoid screen time at least an hour prior to bedtime,” says Dr. Stanford. This includes your smartphone. The blue light emitted by smartphones can interfere with sleep.
Talk to your doctor. If youre having problems coping with stress or controlling emotional eating, talk to your primary care physician. He or she may be able to refer you to a health coach, support services, or an obesity specialist. Medications might help some people, but these must be taken long-term or you may regain lost weight.
Emotional Eating And Stress Eating How To Stop
Many of us impulsively eat when feeling stress and other uncomfortable emotions. A habit of eating to soothe, numb, and suppress unwanted emotions is called stress eating or emotional eating .
Stress eating is often accompanied by shame and guilt, creating a feedback loop of negative feelings and overeating.
In this article, well explore the root causes of emotional and stress eating, and offer numerous proven techniques for changing reducing, and eliminating emotional eating habits.
The Difference Between Real Hunger And Psychological Hunger
Learning what is physical, real hunger can help you identify when you actually need to eat and when you are eating because youre bored. It may sound silly but we often get confused with the two.
Knowing the difference can help you know when you have to implement those tips on how to stop boredom eating and when you should actually eat.
While these signs may differ from person to person, if youre experiencing multiple side effects, then its best to eat. Your stomach growling is a sign that youre actually hungry, as well as feeling like your tummy is empty or hollow.
Pain in that area is also common. Some people might experience headaches or shakiness.
These physical sensations will grow stronger the longer its been since youve last time youve eaten.
Another way of knowing if youre actually hungry is by taking even only ten seconds out of your day to ask yourself if you are. If you think about a range of foods and are happy to eat any of them like your superfoods, then most likely you are experiencing true hunger.
However, if youre craving something specific and only eating that specific food will treat the hunger pains youre feeling, then youre most likely wanting to eat for reasons other than true hunger.
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Fish Can Boost Your Heart Health While Fending Off Stress
Fight stress and help prevent heart disease by adding seafood to your plate. Fatty fish in particular are a great option because theyre heart-healthy, and their omega-3s may help ease depression because the nutrients easily interact with mood-related brain molecules, according to the Harvard Health Blog. Fatty fish include tuna, halibut, salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and lake trout, according to the American Heart Association.
Not a fish fan? There are other whole-food options, like seaweed, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, and fortified food, such as certain brands of eggs, milk, soy milk, and nut milk. You can also try omega-3 supplements in the form of fish oil, which can be found at your local drugstore or grocery store. The Harvard Health Blog noted theyre tied to a lower risk for heart disease and stroke.
Figueroa says fish oil is fine if youre not eating a balanced diet that is rich in omega-3s and includes eating fish at least twice a week. But she cautions that its important to check with your doctor or registered dietitian before beginning a supplement routine, so you can figure out the best brand and dosage for your health goals.
What We Can Do Once We Are Aware
- Try to eat 3 Balanced Whole Meals a Day
- Doing so will help you feel full and more satisfied throughout the day
- Do a load of laundry
- Listen, sing or dance to 1 3 songs
- Do 30 squats, jumping jacks, burpees, high knees, etc.
- Deep breathing meditation talking to yourself to breath in and out
- Meditation app Insight Timer
Taking a break to step away from our snacking thoughts gives our brains a few minutes to catch up and recognize if we really are hungry. We can de-stress, relax, or concur boredom in another way than eating!
- Replace the junk snack with a healthier more whole food one
Changing the option of what you are snacking on to a whole food option usually makes you fuller and more satisfied than the typical go to junk foods. This will help you get fuller faster and eat less.
- Chose food items that can be portioned
- Example: take a handful of nuts and dried fruit instead of eating out of the bag or plate apple slices with 2 tbsp of peanut butter instead of eating out of the jar
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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?
Swap Out Your Worst Snacks
If you dont have a giant bag of greasy chips at your fingertips, you cant eat the whole bag. Thats good, because overeating processed snacks can raise your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
If you need a salty snack, stock popcorn instead. Youll get the whole grains that are one important source of the feel-good hormone serotonin. Youll also get antioxidants to boost your immune system and far fewer calories than chips. Roasted chickpeas are another great crunchy option with protein and fiber to fill you up.
If stress, anger or sadness trigger your sweet tooth, remember this: The sugar high comes with a low afterward. This low can lead to increased cravings later. And, sweets and processed foods can even make certain mental concerns, including symptoms of depression, worse.
As an alternative to your favorite candy, cake or pies, Kippen recommends keeping a bowl of sweet fruit out in the open. .
I also suggest keeping frozen berries on hand that can quickly be throwninto a blender to make a healthy sorbet, she says.
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Remove Addictive Foods From Your Pantry
One of the most effective strategies for reducing addictive behaviors is by changing your environment.
In the case of emotional eating, this means eliminating or donating addictive foods. Frozen pizzas, juices, sodas, bread products like bagels and pastries, most packaged and high-carb processed foods like chips, cereals, and high-sugar ice creams can all be jettisoned.
Ways To Stop Your Stress Eating According To Nutritionists And Food Psychologists
It’s an all-too-familiar scenario: Your arm reaches into a desk drawer, seemingly on its own, to retrieve a bag of chips, leftover Halloween candy, or a free table cookie you had stashed for later. Before you know it, the treat is in your mouth and you feel a rush of euphoria and calm, then guiltthen eventually, you’re back to feeling stressed, which triggers the cycle all over again.
And stopping the cycle is tough. Especially since much of the sugary, junky food we chow down when stressed actually reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol in our bloodstream, thus reducing stress and hardwiring us to seek out those less-than-stellar foods time and again when we’re under pressure.
The solution? Reminding yourself that you’re in the throes of a cravingand aren’t actually hungrycan sometimes be enough to snap you back to reality. But when it’s not, don’t worry. You still have plenty of tools to curb that stress-induced urge to eat, like these 12 strategies and snack ideas from some of our favorite dietitians and food psychologists.
“Healthy fats, protein, and fiber in avocado work together to keep you satiated, leaving you less likely to binge on something else,” says Levinson. “Plus, the complex carbohydrates in whole-grain bread can help boost the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain.” You don’t have to tell us twice!
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How To Stop Stress Eating While Caring For Your Parent
Caregiving involves adding many new responsibilities to your already busy life. It entails being there for your aging parent who you love, and whose declining health may be taxing your own mental, emotional, and physical health.
While its difficult to see your mom or dad declining, dont lose sight that you are likely doing the best you can and there are ways to improve your state of mind.
What Are The Causes Of Emotional Eating
Emotional eating occurs when you turn to food to make yourself feel better. Eating is used as a coping mechanism rather than to satisfy hunger. Typically, the driving force behind emotional eating is stress, and it plays such a large role in emotional eating that it is often referred to as “stress eating.”
Because of the hormones that stress releases, stress can negatively affect your eating habits. Despite not being particularly hungry or in need of calories, humans naturally gravitate toward “comfort foods” that are higher in fat or sugar content, like fast food and desserts, when they feel upset. For those who are already overweight, the pull toward high-calorie foods and overeating might be even stronger.
Unfortunately, food is not able to make emotional problems go away, and more often than not, stress eating makes you feel worse than before. After consuming a calorie-dense snack, the original emotional issue remains, and on top of that, guilt about overeating begins to set in. These feelings can start a dangerous emotional eating cycle that is difficult to break free from.
The emotional eating cycle begins with the urge to find comfort in food whenever you feel stressed, exhausted, angry, lonely sad or even bored. Although eating your favorite food may feel good in the moment, it does not make the negative emotions go away. Instead, you are left more upset than ever and beating yourself up for not having the willpower to resist overeating.
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What Is Stress Eating How To Curb The Habit
If all you want is a big slice of chocolate cake whenever you feel stressed out about a big work project, family issues or social obligations, you’re not alone. In fact, stress eating is a common behavior that 27% of adults deal with. But why does eating relieve stress, and what makes you crave certain foods when you’re upset?
This article will answer these questions and more by going over the causes of emotional eating, common stress eating symptoms and tips to help stop stress eating. Keep reading to learn how to overcome emotional eating and deal with your stress in a more positive way.
Make A Mindful And Intentional Decision
If junk food actually does help dampen the threat response system, perhaps you will mindfully and intentionally choose to eat something that makes you feel better. This is not necessarily a problem.
It becomes a problem when that intentional decision turns into a weeklong junk food bender that makes you feel worse about yourself in the long run. Ask these three questions before deciding to dive into the chocolate cake:
- Do I want this?
- Will I feel shame or guilt after eating this?
- Do I need this?
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Probiotics Can Create A Healthy Gut Microbiota Helping You Manage Stress
The best way to support healthy gut hormones is with good-for-you bacteria called probiotics, Figueroa says. According to Harvard Health Publishing, probiotics can help boost the immune system, protect against harmful bacteria, and improve digestion and absorption of nutrients. An article published in December 2018 in University Health News cited several studies that found gut health has a direct correlation to improving anxiety, depression, and mood. One way is that gut bacteria can produce molecules with neuroactive functions, including serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid , which positively influence mood.
Probiotics can be available in supplement form, but its unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the pills can be more expensive than their food form, Figueroa says. Some of the top-rated brands run for more than $40 for a months supply, for instance.
Fortunately, probiotics occur naturally in food, too, and appear to be slightly better than the pill form, though both are efficient carriers for good bacteria, according to a study published in August 2014 in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
Figueroas favorite is kefir, a fermented yogurt drink, which is available in both dairy and vegan forms. She also recommends yogurt and fermented foods, including kombucha and miso, a Japanese fermented bean paste that can be found in miso soup.
Choose Filling Nutritious Foods
Stocking your kitchen with filling, nutrient-dense foods can not only help improve your overall health but also combat the tendency to stress eat highly palatable foods.
For example, filling your fridge and pantry with foods that can help fill you up in a healthful way rather than foods rich in empty calories like candy, chips, and soda is a smart way to prevent the chances of noshing on unhealthy choices.
Filling foods are ones that are high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Nuts, seeds, avocados, beans, and eggs are just some examples of nutritious, satisfying choices that can help fill you up and prevent overeating (
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What Is Stress Eating
Stress eating, or emotional eating, is pretty much what it sounds like its when you eat in order to escape whatever bad feelings youre experiencing, in the hope that food will make you feel better.
Sometimes its a conscious decision, but more often than not, its just a mindless response to a vague, negative emotion that you cant quite put your finger on. Stress and boredom can also trigger emotional eating. It might lead you to order in comfort foods that are higher in calories than your usual meals rather than cooking a healthy meal at home, or skip meals altogether and just graze on a series of unhealthy snack foods.
Stress can bring on fatigue or depression, so healthy eating might take a back seat to foods that are comforting. Those high-calorie comfort foods can stimulate the release of certain chemicals in the brain that make us feel good, but also make us want to keep eating. In a vicious cycle, overeating can lead to weight gain increasing stress and which, in turn, can lead to more overeating.
Powerful Strategies To Stop Or Reduce Stress Eating
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Many people eat to cope with their emotions, including myself, now and then. It is something that we are all susceptible to, so youre not alone.
Before diving into how you can handle stress eating, lets talk about the difference between physical and emotional hunger because knowing the difference between the two is helpful.
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Learn Which Dinnerware Works For You
You might have heard that eating from a smaller plate or using a certain size utensil can help you eat less.
Reducing the size of your dinnerware might also help you unconsciously reduce your meal portions and consume less food without feeling deprived. When you have more on a larger plate, youre likely to eat more without realizing it (
Overall, exercise appears to have a relatively positive effect on appetite for most people, but its important to note that studies have noticed a wide variability in the way individuals and their appetite respond to exercise .
In other words, theres no guarantee the results will be the same for everyone. However, exercise has many benefits, so its a great idea to incorporate movement you enjoy into your day.
Both aerobic and resistance exercise can help increase fullness hormones and lead to reduced hunger and calorie intake. Higher intensity activities might have the greatest effects.
One animal study fed rats an herbal mix that contained ginger along with peppermint, horse gram, and whey protein. The mixture was found to help regulate appetite and induce satiety, though the results cant be attributed to the ginger alone .
Still, more studies in humans are needed before strong conclusions about ginger and hunger can be reached .
In addition to adding flavor and settling your stomach, ginger may help decrease feelings of hunger. Yet, more research is needed to confirm this effect.