When we feel stressed about work, family, or other obligations, it is very common for us to reach for food. Unfortunately, this habit can make us over-consuming and ultimately gain weight, which can lead to depression feelings and more stress.
It can turn into a negative cycle if we don’t learn how to manage stress eating Eating is not just physical, but psychological as well. For reasons other than limiting hunger, you eat food during stress eating. You eat to satisfy your appetite or cravings for a certain food during stress eating because you think it will provide emotional relief.
Your body releases a hormone called cortisol in stressful situations that can boost your appetite for “unhealthy” foods. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to get your way out of the cycle of stress eating.
Awareness can be the most powerful aspect when it comes to making a change. It is the first step to become more aware of how emotional or stress eating plays out for you. Sometimes stress eating is called “mindless eating” because we often do not think about what we are doing and let our unconscious habits or drives take over.
1. Find Your Triggers
Since we’re all different, you need to work to identify the circumstances and emotions that cause you to reach out for food. You can develop a plan to avoid them or prepare for them once you find your triggers.
A good idea is to have a “replacement” task, so don’t just sit down and try and force it through when cravings come. You constantly think about your cravings by not taking action, so instead go for a little walk or drive to clear your head.
2. Get More Sleep
Sleep deficiency triggers hormone changes that can lead to increased food consumption and weight gain. It can also increase stress, leading to increased levels of cortisol, which can increase appetite and cravings, as mentioned earlier. Adults are advised to get 7-8 hours of sleep.
Most people underestimate the power of their minds, they are often restless and need to stay busy. Meditation, though, helps to relax your mind and regulate your heart rate and breathing. You can also concentrate better when you are calm and focused and therefore make healthier food choices.
4. Eat More Nutrient-Dense Foods
It’s something to be aware of mixing physical and psychological hunger. When this happens, you eat not just for the sake of completeness, but also for comfort. This can be risky because comfort foods are often fatty and sugary, high-calorie, and not nutritious at all, which is why overeating them is easier.
You may want to prepare more nutrient-dense meals to reduce the overeating chances. Consider having at least 1 serving of green vegetables at each meal and at least 20 grams of protein. Consider eating carbohydrates that are dense in nutrients, such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, beans, legumes, whole grains and fruit.
5. Talk to Your Friends and Family
Consider asking a really great friend or family member to support you out if you’re a regular stress eater. Be honest and open about what you are feeling and how you want them to help you. A good way they can help is to be available if you feel stressed to let you call them. They can remind you of your nutrition goals during the call and motivate you with positive talk, and you can talk and decompress your feelings.
6. Practice Deep Breathing
Pause and breathe deeply for a few minutes if you feel like a stressful situation is taking the best out of you. You’re going to want to breathe in through your belly, not your chest, fill it up, keep it for a couple of seconds, release it and do it for a few minutes. This will increase the body’s oxygen flow, relax your muscles, keep your mind off pressure, and reduce your levels of cortisol.
7. Exercise to Reduce Stress
Studies have shown that the effects of stress tend to be better handled by people who are in shape. This is because exercise results in chemical brain changes that reduce stress.
I think many people’s tension is why they don’t feel like exercising. It’s important for you to concentrate on breaking this habit for the future, though. Just as you have entered depression and stress drifting habits, you should develop health and wellness habits as well.