Ten ways to control stress eating
How to stop drowning your sorrows in a tub of ice cream
We’ve all been there. Found happiness in a family sized cheesy pizza after a fight with a bestie. Drowned a miserable day in a bottle of wine. Chomped on a box of double choc cookies after a breakup. It’s proven that uncomfortable emotions—anger, sadness and frustration—can send you into a spiral of unhealthy eating but unfortunately they mask the problem only temporarily. You wake up the next morning, feeling sad and fat. We all know that but it doesn’t stop us from reaching for sugary, salty treats over and over again after a tough day. The only way to break this cycle is controlling emotional eating once and for all.
Redirect that adrenaline
Stress equals cortisol and adrenaline, the stress hormones that flood the bloodstream. Also called the ‘fight or flight’ hormones, they can spur you into do impulsive things like reaching for those chips or chocolates. Instead put them to good use and get all those neglected chores done. Scrub the kitchen, rearrange your cupboard, go for a run. In short, do tasks that make you feel in control rather than sorry for yourself.
Vocalize how you feel
Fretting and fuming on your own and then eating yourself silly is so counterproductive. Instead, write letters to the people causing you so much stress (even if you don’t post them). Just putting things into words calms the brain and reduces stress without the additional calories!
Maintain a food journal
Any old notebook will do. Make four columns for the day, time, your feelings and what you ate. Then record your daily food habits and how you were feeling, what triggered the binges. It’s the perfect way to understand that eating usually isn’t biological or mindful. Once you know the triggers and your reactions, you can then go about thinking of healthier substitutes when these feeling motivated hunger pangs strike.
Identify your emotions
How were you feeling when you decided to raid the refrigerator? Were you sad, lonely, bored or afraid? Knowing what the emotion is and what the triggers are, makes you understand yourself better and gives you the freedom to manage your emotions differently. So if you’re feeling lonely, instead of diving into a candy bar, why not call a friend or offer to take a neighbor’s dog for a walk?
Anxiety is often the trigger for emotional eating. Women tend to eat to fill that hollow feeling in the pit of the stomach that comes with nerves. The best way to tackle that is taking a deep breath, slowly exhaling, and then taking another deep breath. Do this to a count of ten with your eyes closed. You’ll feel centered and so much calmer (and less hungry).
We often mistake thirst for hunger and you’ll be surprised by how many people drink too little water. So have a couple of glasses of aqua when you think you’re hungry. Wait a while and if you’re still feeling hungry eat a fruit.
Get some TLC
Deal with negativity by being kind to yourself. Take a long bath with bathing salts and a glass of wine. Get a massage. Basically put yourself in a different environment, in fact that’s what you need the most to feel better about yourself.
Eat some protein
Protein-rich snacks help stabilize blood sugars and if you’re not feeling hungry, you’re unlikely to binge on fatty or sugary foods. Make yourself a whole wheat chicken or paneer sandwich, eat a bowlful of steamed sprouts or just a slice of bread with peanut butter.
Learn the art of mindful eating
You’re not an animal. So wolfing food down without tasting or smelling it is just not right. Instead, start being mindful of what you put into your mouth. Pay attention to the texture, smell, flavor and taste of food in front of you. It’s only then that you will feel truly satisfied and blessed by what you eat.
Don’t skimp on sleep
It’s only when you sleep that hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin get switched off. Get by with less than your daily zzzs is a one-way ticket to overeating. To stay on top of how much you eat, get adequate shut eye. Plus it’s the cheapest and most effective way to de-stress and feel in control.