How to Avoid Stress-Eating and Fuel Your Body Right
Work + Life Balance

How to Avoid Stress-Eating and Fuel Your Body Right

STRESS SNACKING IS A NO-GO! HERE'S HOW TO PRACTICE SELF-CONTROL AND ENCOURAGE OVERALL WELLNESS IN JUST A FEW SIMPLE STEPS. 

While people deal with stress in different ways, stress eating often takes the cake.

Pun intended.

Because stress increases the amount of the hormone cortisol, which is secreted in the brain, our bodies seek a way to quickly and efficiently find and inject the “calm down” hormone, serotonin. And that is why we find ourselves breaking into a bag of chips after a stressful meeting, wolfing down the last lonely cookie in the common area, or cozying up to a quart of gelato at the end of a long day. Food—especially carbs of the sweet, creamy, or crunchy variety—shoot us with an almost immediate dose of serotonin, which is why stress eating is an all-too-typical means of self-soothing.

Here are some ways to take a preemptive strike against stress eating and fuel your body right, especially when you're feeling the heat.       

PAY ATTENTION

Everything begins with consciousness, so when you find yourself feeling stressed out and tempted to eat to cope, stop, look, and listen to your mind and body cues. Try to avoid reacting to the stress, and instead accept the current state you're in by giving yourself permission to take a breather and just be. {Click to Tweet}

Try to avoid reacting to the stress, and instead accept the current state you're in by giving yourself permission to take a breather and just be. 

Often, we need only to acknowledge where were at—whether good or bad—to face our situations head on with a clearer perspective. 

HAVE A PLAN

It is true that when we're busy and stressed we have little time and energy to prepare healthy food, which is why convenience foods are so prevalent. While stress can't always be anticipated, know your triggers and plan accordingly. {Click to Tweet}

For example, I don't always have time to make and eat breakfast before I leave for work, but I know that a bowl of oatmeal always starts my day right. Because of this, I try to make a batch of oatmeal on Sunday night and store it in individual containers that I can grab and go in the morning. My backup plan is to keep supplies on hand to make oatmeal at work.

This way I know that, whatever situation I'm in, Im starting the day with a healthy breakfast, thereby setting the tone for a day of healthy eating. 

Related: Five Nutritious Breakfast Ideas

CHANNEL YOUR CRAZY

Acting crazy during stressful times is likely not going away anytime soon, so you have to learn to deal with it as it comes.

Though it requires carving out time and consistent dedication, working out daily is fundamental for combating stress and controlling the crazy. And while exercise increases your appetite, it also simultaneously decreases your desire to stress eat.

I prefer mixing up my workouts with a variety of intense cardio (always with up-tempo music), but your method of channeling your crazy can be whatever kind of exercise that is sustainable to you, be it yoga, running, kickboxing, strength training, or dancing.  

TALK IT OUT

Sometimes stress wreaks havoc on our ability to see the bigger picture, especially when our days are filled with back-to-back meetings, red exclamation points littering our inbox, and impending deadlines in our work and home lives. And then all we want to do is eat candy.

Keep in mind that most of what we do is important and fulfilling, but it is not rocket science, nor is anyone going to die if we miss a deadline. Still, we want to meet our career and personal goals—often, with the added stress of looking great while doing it—but the truth is, imposing all this pressure on ourselves just makes us want to eat a cupcake (or three).

When stress becomes unbearable, talk it out with a good friend or a professional therapist to gain some perspective, making sure to shift the conversation to "happy thoughts" in the end.

When stress becomes unbearable, talk it out with a good friend or a professional therapist to gain some perspective, making sure to shift the conversation to "happy thoughts" in the end. 

 You may just find your cupcakes cravings miraculously subside. 

Related: Seasonal Foods to Keep You Healthy All Summer

It may take some practice and some dedication, but over time you'll learn that stress eating actually begets more stress, as opposed to combating it.

But, of course, stress is a natural byproduct of a busy, often rewarding life, and it isn't going away any time soon. So accept it, pay attention to it, and channel it into healthier activities, taking care of both your emotional and physical states.