Stress brought on by dieting is added to the personal and work life stresses that we face every day, often resulting in a “vicious cycle” of increased stress and increased food intake. People under stress tend to engage in self-defeating and unhealthy behaviors such as binge eating and there is strong biologic evidence that stressed-out people may tend to put on the pounds faster. “I’m stressed, therefore I eat.” Many people complain that they overeat in response to workplace or personal stress. If this sounds like you, read the following tips for managing stress-related overeating to help you check this unhealthy habit.
1. Practice waiting. Postpone your instant gratification when hunger hits. Tell yourself you’ll wait 10 to 30, minutes to eat. Chances are good if your cravings are only stress-related, they’ll disappear when you allow yourself to become distracted.
2. Keep a food journal of what you eat each day. Knowing you have to write down every snack or nibble can be a good way to remind yourself to think before eating.
3. Enlist a friend’s help – ideally one who also is tempted by stress-related cravings. When you feel like eating, write him/her a quick note or make a phone call.
4. Keep yourself nourished. Eat regular, healthy snacks to maintain your energy level. Skipping meals while under stress only prompts you to eat more, and unhealthily, when you do get around to eating.
5. Post some reminder messages wherever you’re likely to see them when stress-related cravings begin. Use any message that works for you. Examples might be “Are you really hungry?” or “Think about why you’re eating.”
6. Physically remove tempting food items from your home or office. Never go shopping while hungry and always make a list of food items prior to shopping; bring home only what you feel good about eating.
7. Take time for yourself every day. Whether it’s 10 minutes to reflect and relax, or whether it’s some fun activity that will revitalize you, it’s critical to do it. Health is not just physical, mental well-being is just as important, you deserve to mentally de-stress everyday!