Don’t let stress take over your waistline
Stress/emotional eating, or as I like to call it “eating my emotions”, is real and I don’t know if you could find someone it doesn’t effect. Stress effects everyone in a different way – some people eat, some people drink, some people just completely shut down.
When you are stressed, you are likely to feel out of control or in need of calming/comfort. That is why so many people turn to food. And when people are looking for comfort food, it rarely means they are craving a big bowl of beets. Cue the potato chips, chocolate chip cookies, simple sugar candy, etc. Not only are we reaching for these foods, it’s also common to overeat them when you are stressed.
Emotional eating rarely has to do with hunger. We eat because we are hoping those calories will turn our frowns upside down, and not because it’s meal time. Sometimes it’s a slippery slope from a handful of nuts, to 1/2 bag of BBQ chips to being elbow deep into the ice cream. These super strong cravings always hit when you are at your weakest, emotionally speaking.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT, YOU ASK?
I have some great approaches ready for you to try if you find yourself falling victim to emotional eating. Check them out:
Keep a Food Diary
You are less likely to eat something bad when you have to write it down. Holding yourself accountable, even if no one else is seeing your food diary, is a great place to start. Your conscious starts playing a role when you say “I don’t know why I’m not losing weight, I do everything right”, because it remembers, “well there was that one time I ate a bag of mini powdered donuts after that horrible fight with my sister”.
It also helps to write things down so you can notice patterns. Do I eat poorly towards the end of the week because my boss is a real a**hole and I’m sick of him riding me? Then you can work on changing your habits to exercising more towards the end of the week, instead of taking in so many calories. Which then brings me to my next tip…
Sweat It OUT
Exercise is a great way to increase endorphins
“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” –Elle Woods, Legally Blonde
You are welcome for that quote 🙂 Burning calories, instead of taking them in is a great stress reliever. If you get off work and just had a horrible day – grab your family and grab your bikes and take a ride before dinner. Get up early and workout before the chaos ensues to ensure you get your time. Head out on a walk during your lunch break. The dietitians’ offices are always in basements and when I was an intern, we would almost get RUN OVER by the speed walkers on their lunch break, making their rounds around the basement hallways. We called it the Indy 500 – but those employees were working it, and I applaud them!
Pick up a yoga class, try meditation, kickboxing, stroller strides – anything that will get your mind off of what is dragging you down.
I do my best cleaning when I’m working through a problem. Don’t take your aggression out with a fork and birthday cake, instead, take it out on your floors, bathrooms, kitchen. Do you want to feel in control? Finally get that dirty ring out of the toilet bowl. Clean out your closet and get rid of anything you haven’t worn in over a year. Tackle your storage room. Not only will you be burning calories, but you are also cleaning house – maybe both figuratively and mentally. Put your phone on speaker and call your friend you haven’t talked to in forever while you are doing it. After all, that’s what friends are for 🙂
Don’t Invite Them In
If you are a sucker for junk food – and you know it – keep it out of your house. In most cases, you control what comes into your house. I, for instance, and a SUCKER for fruit snacks. I love them. I overeat them. You will not find them in my house. I can’t handle the temptation. Stop buying the food that makes you weak – it’s only adding to the temptation to eat it when you are stressed and are scanning the pantry to a quick fix.
These are only a few ways to try to deter stress eating. Others include reading a book, playing a game, writing a letter/email. Just always try to remember that when you are emotionally eating, it’s most likely going against your best efforts to stay healthy.
Just do as I tell my 4-year-old to do. Take a deep breath and try to redirect yourself. If you still feel like you need more help – talk to someone! Talk to a counselor or a therapist – that’s what they are there for.
I hope this helps – if you need more information, please feel free to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org