Let’s talk about stress eating. Stress eating can be a frustrating habit, so if stress eating gets the best of you more times than not…it’s definitely something you’ll want to address. Occasionally using food as a pick-me-up or celebration is not a big deal, but when your primary emotional coping mechanism is food, that’s a cycle you want to break!
Stress is a natural process that helps you respond to difficult or dangerous situations. You may have heard of the fight-or-flight response, which basically means in stressful situations you are hardwired to fight your way out, or run away to safety. Stress is a VERY real feeling that people deal with on a multitude of levels for a variety of different reasons! It is a totally common and natural feeling, so it’s important to understand how YOU deal with stress, so you can start to train your body how to cope with stress, without adding the extra calories to your diet!
When you come face to face with a stressful situation – whether you’re being chased by a lion or you have a long, busy day at the office – your body releases a slew of hormones to help you function. These hormones get you to focus on the task at hand without being distracted by things like hunger or using the bathroom. The problem with stress from long, busy work days is that you don’t really get back to your non-stressed baseline and, while some of those stress hormones decrease your appetite temporarily, others ramp it up.
Studies show that stress can not only make you hungrier, but also make you crave high fat and high sugar foods. It also likely means you’re not sleeping well and not exercising as much. This combination often leads to weight gain, which is another stressor to add to the cycle.
So what are some ways to combat this cycle? If you find yourself stress eating, or you know you’ve had that problem in the past, try to incorporate other habits into your life to decompress regularly instead of turning to food.
Here are 8 different options for you to swap stress eating with healthier habits:
- Take 10 minutes to mediate using an app like Headspace or videos on Youtube
- Use dry brushing as a relaxing self-care technique (takes 5 minutes!)
- Create a self care ritual: Have a face mask and chill session in the bathtub.
- Drink some calming herbal tea instead of reaching for that dessert
- Read a good book like Game of Thrones to take your mind off work stress
- Go for a quick walk outside
- Get in a sweat-releasing sauna session
- Make a to-do list so your workload feels more manageable
Those are just some easy techniques I like to incorporate when I’m stressed, but I’d love to hear from you, what are some things you like to do when managing your stress level?