Stress is something we all experience at one time or another – and it’s perfectly natural to feel stressed. It is also natural to look towards food when we are experiencing this stress. What might be surprising to some is that stress eating is not simply someone losing will power – it’s actually a biological stress and survival response. The problem is that during stress we look to comfort foods – typically high-fat, highly processed, sugary foods – because they provide quick energy for our bodies. Unfortunately, eating these foods on a regular basis will result in not only unwanted weight gain but will impact the health of our gut, brain and how our bodies function in general. If left un-managed, stress can lead to continued problems such as anxiety, depression, obesity, high blood pressure and even a weakened immune system. Better understanding stress eating, and learning how to best validate and process difficult emotions instead, can help guide us during this time of unrest. Here we provide some tips for minimizing stress eating so that you can get through tough times and also make taking care of your mind and body a priority.
Stress Eating Tips:
Take An Emotional Break:
In the midst of uncertainty, give yourself permission to indulge in your favorite treat, just do so in moderation.
Be Present When You Are Eating:
Mindful eating means being fully attentive to your food as you buy, prepare, serve and consume it. Eat without distraction, and chew slowly to properly kick start the digestive process.
Studies show that people who plan out their meals eat healthier overall. Start small; Lunch is a great meal to start with. When you are making dinner for the night, make a little bit extra and save for lunches the next few days.
Avoid One-Size Fits All Diets:
Choose a meal plan that works for you. The truth is there is not a “one-size fits all” meal plan that works best. We all have individual needs. The best meal plan is one that meets your medical and nutritional needs. It has to be affordable, sustainable, and enjoyable.
Consider Intermittent Fasting:
This is not right for everyone, for some the thought of intermittent fasting can be stressful and may not be helpful. For many people however, keeping an eating window to 8-10 hours can be healing, empowering, and provide many health benefits for letting your gut reset.
Make Sleep a Priority:
Seek help if you are suffering from sleep problems or insomnia. Try and incorporate a consistent bedtime routine and practice sleep hygiene.
It is important to exercise your mind and body. Hitting the gym, streaming a workout video, or joining a friend for a hill walk are great ways to get exercise.