“Things have been really crazy recently” is hands down the most typical excuse for poor eating choices, according to webMD. Whether it’s going back to school, a job change, a move, or something more serious–perhaps a loss of a loved one or personal heartbreak–your eating doesn’t have to follow suit.
Did you know that stress in general can keep you from losing weight, even if you are following the strictest of diets? And, it can cause you to gain weight.
Sometimes the holidays bring on stress eating as well, so now is the time to start focusing on what you eat, or don’t eat. Some people are stress eaters, while others don’t eat. If you can relate to one or the other, read these tips on staying healthy and taking control.
- Eat breakfast everyday. This is called an “anchor behavior.” Anchor behaviors hold you accountable.
- Another anchor behavior is to stop eating at a certain time, and stick to it. Say8:00 or so.
- Keep healthy snacks with you. Nuts, dried fruits, bananas, string cheese…these are all things that will keep your blood sugar balanced so you don’t pig out later.
- Take charge of your social eating by changing your thinking. Instead of meeting friends over a hot fudge Sunday, a plate of fried appetizers, or nachos, go to a juice bar, or try a vegetarian restaurant.
- Talk it out—another reason for stress eating is stuffing emotions. Food seems to be the first choice to take the focus off of confrontations or fears. Try to communicate and you will feel better all around.
- Take omega 3′s: When you’re in a chronic state of stress, cortisol (a hormone that helps regulate energy and maintains homeostasis) is released, which causes a state of chronic inflammation. It can create craving for both sweet and salty foods. Omegas 3′s are one of the best anti-inflammatories out there.
- Get moving—even 10-15 minutes can help divert your mind from food. Change positions, take a short walk, pick up some light hand weights or exercise bands. I have a friend that hula hoops.
- Relax and stretch. Stress builds up in our body and then creates more stress and discomfort. If you can’t change your life (or the next hour), you can still be kind to yourself and stretch out your neck or your back. Try to create comfort in your body in ways that don’t involve eating.
- Breathe–Here’s a powerful tip. Set a timer on your computer or phone to go off once an hour. When your timer goes off, stop what you are doing for 60 seconds and just breathe. Putyour hands on your abdomen, inhale deeply through your nose as your abdomen expands, and the exhale slowy through your mouth. If you focus on your breath for just sixty seconds you will relax.
- Try meditation—Meditation puts your mind at ease by controlling the focus of your attention. If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to listen to this 5 minute meditation. Just 5 minutes a day to start will make a profound difference in anxiety and stress.
If you are concerned about your weight and want to understand what role stress may be playing take this Stress and Weight test.
And remember to b r e a t h e …