We all experience stress in our lives, especially as adults. And when we become stressed, we naturally seek ways to relieve the anxiety and pressure it brings. As it turns out, nearly half of Americans turn to stress eating to lessen its impact. So, understanding how to avoid this bad habit and maintain healthy eating is vital for our health and future.
The first tip is to establish specific times to allow yourself to eat. For example, many individuals participate in intermittent fasting. This approach sets a particular period during the day when calories will be consumed. Most commonly, intermittent fasters will only eat during an eight-hour window. Sticking to this regimen means the time available to stress eat is significantly reduced.
Avoid unhealthy snacks altogether if you have the option to do so. Sugary snacks can quickly add up in calories. Additionally, the more sugar consumed, the more sugar the body wants. Cortisol, the stress hormone, increases within the body, creating a vicious cycle that becomes more difficult to break over time. And if you must have snacks in the house for yourself or others, ensure they are healthy, including fruits and vegetables.
Find other ways to distract yourself when you get stressed out. For example, some people will spend time with loved ones, focus on a hobby, or find ways to relax through meditation, exercise, reading, etc. Participating in non-stressful activities lowers cortisol levels while also reducing the urge to eat. As they say, busy hands are happy hands.
One sure-fire way to avoid stress eating is not to become stressed in the first place. Of course, this is easier said than done. However, there are daily habits you can implement to lower the likelihood of becoming stressed during the day. Daily exercise first thing in the morning can bring cortisol levels near zero, providing a fresh start to the day. Regular meditation clears the mind and helps build mental focus. Lastly, healthy eating habits help regulate the body's chemical makeup, staving off stress.
Stress is a part of life. But being aware of stress triggers, ways to avoid stress, and learning tips for coping will hopefully combine to bring more calm, and less stress eating, into your life.