10 Dec Stress Eating
How are you hanging in there with the return of safer at home recommendations? Many of us are feeling the damper this entails, especially when holidays present their own unique plans and sometimes challenges. As we process how this is impacting us emotionally and identify our personal coping strategies, we’d like to highlight the common and sometimes destructive habit of stress eating.
The Cleveland Clinic shares, “Stress is a normal reaction the body has when changes occur. It can respond to these changes physically, mentally, or emotionally.” While this doesn’t necessarily sound like a big deal or eye-opening definition of stress, we respond to stress and stressors in a variety of ways. Spending more time at home may mean that stress eating has a greater likelihood of wiggling its way into your pantry or refrigerator as a default coping mechanism.
Interestingly, Harvard Health explains:
In the short term, stress can shut down appetite. The nervous system sends messages to the adrenal glands atop the kidneys to pump out the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). Epinephrine helps trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response, a revved-up physiological state that temporarily puts eating on hold.
But if stress persists, it’s a different story. The adrenal glands release another hormone called cortisol, and cortisol increases appetite and may also ramp up motivation in general, including the motivation to eat. Once a stressful episode is over, cortisol levels should fall, but if the stress doesn’t go away — or if a person’s stress response gets stuck in the “on” position — cortisol may stay elevated.
So what can you do to prevent or manage habits or tendencies to stress eat. Here are tips from the Mayo Clinic.
- Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you’re feeling when you eat and how hungry you are. Over time, you might see patterns that reveal the connection between mood and food.
- Tame your stress. If stress contributes to your emotional eating, try a stress management technique, such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing.
- Have a hunger reality check. Is your hunger physical or emotional? If you ate just a few hours ago and don’t have a rumbling stomach, you’re probably not hungry. Give the craving time to pass.
- Get support. You’re more likely to give in to emotional eating if you lack a good support network. Lean on family and friends or consider joining a support group.
- Fight boredom. Instead of snacking when you’re not hungry, distract yourself and substitute a healthier behavior. Take a walk, watch a movie, play with your cat, listen to music, read, surf the internet or call a friend.
- Take away temptation. Don’t keep hard-to-resist comfort foods in your home. And if you feel angry or blue, postpone your trip to the grocery store until you have your emotions in check.
- Don’t deprive yourself. When trying to lose weight, you might limit calories too much, eat the same foods repeatedly and banish treats. This may just serve to increase your food cravings, especially in response to emotions. Eat satisfying amounts of healthier foods, enjoy an occasional treat and get plenty of variety to help curb cravings.
- Snack healthy. If you feel the urge to eat between meals, choose a healthy snack, such as fresh fruit, vegetables with low-fat dip, nuts or unbuttered popcorn. Or try lower calorie versions of your favorite foods to see if they satisfy your craving.
- Learn from setbacks. If you have an episode of emotional eating, forgive yourself and start fresh the next day. Try to learn from the experience and make a plan for how you can prevent it in the future. Focus on the positive changes you’re making in your eating habits and give yourself credit for making changes that’ll lead to better health.
Exercise/Workout Spotlight: This week’s workout/exercise spotlight goes to Tabata. What a fun word to say, right?! So what is Tabata training? Active.com shares:
Tabata training is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, featuring exercises that last four minutes.RECIPES FOR THIS WEEK
by Victoria Emmitt RD