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7 Ways to Stop Stress Eating for Good
Rough days. You’ve most probably had some as we all do after all. The ways we cope with them vary from one person to another but one common way to cool off when something wrong happens or you find yourself in a stressful situation is eating. The wrong foods, in the wrong quantity, at the wrong time. And all that can only further lead to wrong things. So, the question is how to stop stress eating after a rough day? Stay tuned to find out more as that’s what we focus on today.
Stressful situations were something even our ancestors had to deal with. They’re the ones who developed this fight-or-flight response. Although there’s quite some difference between being chased by some tiger and having a seemingly never-ending to-do list, the body reacts the same way.
If our ancestors needed the energy to run from the danger, we need the same energy to deal with all of our duties and that’s why we crave for high-calorie foods. The great thing is that we can cope with stressful situations without having all those unhealthy foods. Here’s a list of things to try when you find yourself overwhelmed after a rough day.
Go for your favorite workout
This particular trick is a very healthy one. You won’t just sweat your stress out and thus consume fewer calories later on but you will also work on the way your body looks. Double benefit.
During a research study, 34 college students were asked to spend 20 minutes answering and solving various math questions and problems. After the test, half of them rested for 35 minutes while the other half went for a 15-minute hardcore interval workout. This break was then followed by a pizza session. This is where the difference popped up.
The students who worked out consumed around 25 fewer calories than the ones who just rested. While 25 calories might not be that much, it’s still better than nothing. Just think of how many calories you could “skip” if you go for a workout each time you have a stressful task. Researchers have thus concluded that workouts have an impact on the hunger and satiety hormones and reduce one’s appetite after a mentally challenging situation.
Create a stress-reducing kit
As weird as that may sound, actually there are things you could use to create such a kit. Think of your favorite music, perfume or a soft scarf. Such items will ignite your senses. Keep that bag of goodies close to you and dig through it when you find yourself in a stressful situation. You will thus deal with the stress the moment it happens and you’ll avoid getting home overwhelmed at the end of the day.
Take a distressing walk
You may think it’s just too easy to walk and relief any tension you get during the day. Well, find out that it’s as simple as that indeed. When you feel like that favorite chocolate of yours is the only answer to your stress and you don’t feel like going to the gym, go for a walk instead. Walk for 15 minutes and you’ll be surprised to feel that your sugar craving diminishes. At least, that’s what the researchers from the University of Exeter concluded.
Have some of the stress-relieving activities you like best
We’d include here whatever makes you happy. Be it a walk with your dog, listening to some chill out songs, meditating, taking a long shower or getting pampered with a new manicure. Go for any such activity and you’ll put your cravings on pause.
Such activities address the stress directly. So, you will reduce your stress but you won’t get the calories you’d receive with foods like ice cream (a popular stress-busting option). Make sure that the activities you opt for have healthy benefits. Try to get some sort of health benefit from any of the things you do when you’re stressed out, besides the stress-relieving effect. Why not ridding of stress and getting some health bonus as well?
Turn your TV off when eating
Researchers say that eating with your TV off and focusing on your dinner, therefore being in the moment, will actually help you a lot. This way you will create harmony between you and your food and you will be able to notice the satiety cues and know when to stop. Mindfulness when eating will reduce your risk of binge-eating which often happens when one eye is focusing on the new episode of your favorite TV series and the other on your plate.
Go for a stimulating game of Tetris
It’s not just fun but it will reduce your stress and your cravings. According to a recent study published in Addictive Behaviors, the people who played Tetris when a stressful situation increased their cravings for high-calorie foods noticed a 14 percent decrease in their cravings, unlike the group that simply went for their normal routines.
Games that will stimulate you will also shift your focus. Thus, you are likely to forget about food and consequently reduce your cravings. Plus, you get to boost your brain activity. So, once again, double benefits.
Rate your hunger
You can cope with stress-eating by rating your hunger. Go for a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 means you’re still full from what you ate last time and 10 means you’re starving. If you reach the 10 level, eating is what you have to do but make sure you eat mindfully. You focus on your food and you pay attention to satiety cues so you know when to stop.
This way you will avoid binge eating. If you’re close to 1 but you still have cravings or you feel overwhelmed, try to identify the cause. Sometimes, loneliness might trigger all sorts of moods. See your friend if you feel lonely. Food won’t help when that happens. Therefore, try to find the appropriate solution to your problem. Food can’t solve them all. By contrary, eating mindlessly at the wrong time and, above all, in inadequate amounts can only add to your problems.