Stress eating is more common than we think, and a lot of people don’t realize they are doing it. With life, comes stress, but it’s how we deal with that stress that matters. Reaching for that ice cream when having a bad day probably isn’t what your body needs, but you do it anyway because you think it will make you feel better. Here are some tips on how to avoid stress eating so you can be a healthier, stress free version of yourself.
Determine your stress triggers
We all get stressed from time to time, whether it be from work, school or just daily life. For many people, they deal with stress by eating a whole pint of ice cream or an entire bag of potato chips in one sitting. If you notice that you are dreaming (or having nightmares) about your big presentation next week and reach for the donuts as soon as you wake – then you have determined what triggers your stress. If you have something constantly on your mind, like worrying about finals and your grades, relationship problems, or trying to land that perfect job, I can almost guarantee that’s what is making you grab those unhealthy food options. Whatever the case may be, once you discover what triggers your stress and recognize how you are reacting to it (by eating poorly), then you are on the road to recovery.
Surround yourself with healthy foods
I know that many of us are on a budget and healthy food tends to be more on the expensive side, but try to surround yourself with healthy foods. Buy low-calorie, unprocessed, low-fat foods such as, fresh fruits, vegetables, hummus and unbuttered popcorn, etc. Also, healthy food doesn’t have to be boring; there are tons of fun ways to eat healthy foods, like peanut butter with apples or celery sticks. Pinterest will be your best friend on the hunt for health foods, so do some research for tasty recipes and have fun while eating healthy!
Keep a food diary
Keeping a diary of the food you eat and perhaps what causes your stress is the next step in avoiding stress eating. A food diary is when you keep a continuous record of how much, what, and when you eat. You may even find it helpful to journal how you’re feeling or why you’re eating. Keeping that constant record may help you see the different patterns and how your mood affects what you choose to eat. Something to try next time you see yourself opening that bag of Old Dutch Dill Pickle Chips or reaching into the freezer for some Double Chocolate Ice Cream is to ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” If not, try and figure out what emotions you are feeling? Are you stressed, angry, bored, scared, sad, or lonely? Whatever you are feeling, write them down.
Find a hobby
When you’re feeling stressed, it’s best to find something to do to take your mind off of it. Instead of eating, do something more productive. Enroll in an activity you always wanted to try, like dance or art classes, or maybe perfect your craft in something you already love, but never have the time for. Whatever it is, find time to do it when your feeling stressed. Let it be your outlet instead of sitting down and eating.
Everything takes time; so don’t expect your stress eating to stop overnight. When you do start to see an improvement in your eating habits, reward yourself. Take pride in the fact that you grabbed an apple instead of a cookie. Made it through the whole week without touching that box of Oreos? Celebrate and reward yourself with one of those delicious cookie sandwiches after dinner…heck, make it two! Success is always sweeter when you can share it with others, so celebrate by going out with friends or family! When you reward yourself for doing something good, you tend you keep doing it. So keep pushing! You got it!
Feature image source: cutypaste.com
Maggie Lieser is currently enrolled in Alexandria Technical and Community College. She plans to transfer to a University next year, where she will finish her AS degree in Business Administration. She also plans to obtain her Bachelors Degree in Human Resources. In November 2011 Maggie, a senior in HS, was in a tragic car accident, which resulted in the amputation of her left arm and the fight for her life. She wants to continue to prove to people that might look at her as disabled and cannot do much, that she can achieve whatever she puts her mind to. She beat the odds once already, and she will never be scared to tackle a new challenge that comes her way.