Are you always snacking at the office? Do you find it impossibly difficult to resist the temptations of saying “no” to chocolate and other pastries?
No matter the scenario, stress eating is one of the top reasons many fail to reach their fitness goals.
Stress is an emotional black hole that throws our diets and lives into intergalactic tailspins.
Neither money nor any special type of cleanse can rescue someone who suffers from stress eating; those just serve as Band-Aids trying to cover deep flesh wounds.
Combating stress eating starts with placing an emphasis on your daily habits and behaviors.
Try these five simple steps below to immediately take control of your stress eating and obtain those fitness goals you deserve to conquer:
1. Seek pleasure in something else besides food
You aced your test, you received a huge promotion or maybe, you feel sad and need a pick-me-up.
You’re bored, so eating sounds like the logical thing to do. It’s movie night, which means it's time to dive into a tub of rocky road ice cream.
Using these justifications for food programs your mind to associate food (often sweets and fattening foods) with pleasure and other emotions.
But, boredom shouldn't equate to eating just to pass time or keep busy. There are plenty of healthier ways to reward yourself and boost your mood other than with eating.
Try something else: Take a trip, immerse yourself in a book, catch up with an old friend, go on a date (and maybe get lucky at the end of the night) or go for a walk (exercise is never a bad thing).
2. Practice eating mindfully
Often we’re not conscious of what we’re doing in the present moment. Our minds are racing in a million directions and food is just an afterthought.
Take notice of what you’re eating, when you’re eating and why you’re eating.
When you eat, focus on your food and refrain from multitasking and eating on the run. Slam the brakes on your pace of eating and stay in the present moment.
3. Turn sleep into a non-negotiable habit
Sleep is the Rodney Dangerfield of our lives; we just don’t give it any respect. If we get sleep, cool. If not, no biggie, we’ll make up for it over the weekend or when it’s convenient.
Yet, sleep influences our food decisions (hello binge eating and snack grazing) and plays a pivotal role with our weight control.
If you cut corners on your zzzs, you’ll pay by adding extra layers (and we’re not talking about clothes here) onto your body.
Cutting corners on your sleep raises your cortisol levels (our stress hormone), thus decreasing our rate of fat loss.
If you value your work, body and everything else, make sleep a non-negotiable aspect of your life.
4. Acknowledge your stress triggers
Every corner we turn, Captain Temptation is waiting with open arms to invite us into his lair. He wheels us in and we fall prey to mindlessly eating.
We all have different trigger points and feelings that cause us to make poor decisions.
For some, this trigger might be your boss at work loading you with project after project and for others, it might be friends and family.
Combating stress triggers starts with identifying where the original source of stress is stemming from.
The easiest way to build this awareness is to start a daily journal and notice your moods and thoughts as you reach for tempting foods.
5. Allow your diet some leeway
While we may want to shed a few unwanted pounds or get ready for the beach, we still have lives to live and experience.
Revolving our lives around our diets and pondering “should I eat this or not?” 24/7 sounds like a crappy way to live.
Placing yourself in dietary confinement in order to be healthy isn’t necessary or recommended.
Successful and healthy long-term eating starts with a positive mentality, a dose of moderation and a feeling of satisfaction in one’s life. Having a good mindset is just as important as calories and exercise.
Enjoy that pizza, cheesecake, glass of wine or beer from time to time (guilt free, of course!).
Please share other ways you avoid stress eating below in the comments section!