Hello! With starting a new job, moving across the country, and moving into a new home, I have realized just how simple and easy it is to do the one thing I always recommend people to try not to do…..stress eat. Whether it’s being overwhelmed in your personal life, starting a new project at work, looking for work, or just running a happy household, we can all think of times in our life where stress has caused us to reach for something we wouldn’t typically reach for, and to do this more often then we’d probably like.
What is my vice? I know it sounds so cliche’ but my vice has and always will be chocolate. Whether in ice cream, in cookies, or just popping in a piece of chocolate after lunch, I am a chocoholic. Recently, I’ve noticed myself reaching for the candy bag more often then not, and in all situations this is the first thing you must do to stop the stress eating… realize and admit that you are doing it. Once that has been done, then you can actually address the problem. It’s ok to have a treat every now and then, but when it starts to become a day to day thing, there may be an underlying reason why.
With the holidays coming up, stress seems to enter our lives more frequently and in greater doses. What is supposed to be the happiest time of the year (and still is, don’t get me wrong) can also be the time of the year that takes the greatest tole on our bodies. Money is spent more often, traveling becomes a regular thing, and the pressure to get everything done that you need to do in 24 hours seems nearly impossible.
So what is the solution?
Here are my top 4 recommendations to stop stress eating. They may not be the same for everyone, and some things may work better for you then others, but like I said in the beginning, acknowledging the problem is always step 1. Step 2 is finding what works best for you to stop it. Happy holidays!
Top 4 Tips to Stop Stress Eating:
1. Get more sleep.
Seems simple right? You would be surprised just how much clearer your mind is when you get an extra hour or so of sleep at night. You make better decisions, think things through, and feel overall better and more energized throughout the day. If your stressful food choice is sweets (cookies, pastries, candy, chocolate, etc.), sleep deprivation may be your #1 problem. When our body is tired, it looks for anything it can to help give it some burst of energy to keep it going. Your bodies craving for energy, along with simple daily stressors can cause you to reach for that sugary treat. The sugar may make you feel better temporarily, but the sugar high will wear off soon my friend. Getting more sleep in the evening will help you think about that food choice and make a better decision. Try to get at least 1 extra hour of sleep/night if you think this may be your problem.
2. Divert your attention.
Stress has many ways of showing itself, whether that be through eating, crying, feeling fatigued, or being short tempered, we all know when it’s about to peak through. When we feel stress seeping into our body, instead of grabbing for your go-to comfort food, divert your attention and give yourself at least 15 minutes to see if you are actually having hunger stomach growls or stress growls. How do we divert our attention? If you are at work, get up from your desk and take a walk around the office, go get a drink of water, talk to a co-worker about something non-work related, re-organize your desk, close your eyes and take 10 deeps breaths, bring a magazine or book and read a few pages. Sometimes our brain gets a little to much information to handle and when we start to feel overwhelmed, what is the easiest and most comfortable thing that we can often do? Eat.
3. Spend more time outside.
Have you ever heard the expression fresh air will do you wonders? I am a firm believer that this expression is more than true for most people. If you have a break in your day, whether thats when you are cleaning your home, out grocery shopping, baking for your next holiday party, or on your lunch break at work, head to the nearest door and go for a quick 15-20 minute walk. Don’t grab the spatula and watch the times pass buy as you lick excess cookie batter and wait anxiously for your timer to go off so you can put in your next batch of cookies. Don’t continue to sit at your desk and eat your lunch (always separate work space, from eating space). Don’t sit on a bench and analyze how much money your’ve spent so far on holiday gifts. Put all thoughts aside and walk. Breathe in fresh air, take notice of the beauty that is around you, and your mind will be 10 times clearer for your second half of the afternoon. You will be more likely to grab that salad from the take-out restaurant on your way home then go grab a burger, fries, and soda from the fast-food counter. Why? Because you will be more conscious of your thoughts and more in-tuned with your body. Why give your body crappy food when it isn’t feeling crappy?
4. Explore your interests.
The holidays are a perfect time to try new things. Instead of sitting inside watching the snow fall and sipping on hot chocolate and cookies or that carton of ice cream that’s been tempting you from the freezer, take advantage of all the activities that are available in the holiday season. Go ice-skating, go for a hike, visit one of the hundreds of light displays that pop-up during the Christmas Season, train for a 5k (there are always more charity sponsored events around the holidays!), head to a wine tasting, go to a holiday crafting class, join a church group, try a new sport (even if it’s mini golfing!). There are so many things offered both during and not-during the holiday season, why limit yourself to sitting at home. Go with a group of people and your not only getting to try something new, but you are also spending time with the people you love. You may think “I’m tired” or “I want to rest for tomorrow because there is so much to do” but giving yourself a break from sitting there and thinking about all there is to do (this is also diverting your attention) can actually help you feel less tired and keep your mind clear and refreshed!