Are you so stressed that you’d kill for a cookie? Are you worried about money? Have you lost your job and concerned about paying bills? Maybe you’re going through a divorce or diagnosed with a tough medical issue.
When Dr. Christie and I wrote our first book I’d Kill for a Cookie, we surveyed 1000 people and guess what we found?
Two out of three reported that they stress eat for most of the above reasons. The reality is that life throws us curve balls that we never expected…right?
I remember when I found out my brother had cancer and wasn’t going to survive. He was only forty. I didn’t cope so well. The food-mood connection is real and it’s strong. I, for one, can verify this, as my reaction was to not eat and lose way too much weight. I felt too sick inside to eat. But for you, it may be just the opposite. Food is your comforter, your best friend. After all, it’s legal and everywhere. But food only meets emotional needs as a quick fix and for a very short time. It’s not a replacement for love or support and can’t fill us with joy.
If food calls your name when you’re stressed and you turn to food for comfort, practice these three stress-less strategies.
- Recognize emotional eating for what it is. Pay attention to your emotions. Every time you eat something, ask yourself…are you hungry or are you eating because of stress? Even better, keep a journal for a few days. Why? When you write down what you eat, how much you eat and why you eat, patterns become clear very quickly. For example, you’ll notice if you eat because the bills are due and the checking account balance is low.
- Decide what actions you can take to help deal with your stress besides turning to food. Find a substitute to replace food…walk around the block, reach one chapter in a good book, or chew sugarless gum. Come up with something that you can do repeatedly instead of eat.
- Seek professional counseling if you feel it’s needed or confide in friends or family members. Come up with some strategies together to deal with the stressful situation or the situation will deal with you.
Start one new smart eating habit. Here are two to choose from:
- If you don’t eat breakfast, start. Research shows that people who eat breakfast eat less during the day. It’s easier to control your food intake when you do feel stressed and your emotions seem out of control.
- Eat more frequently. If you are an emotional eater and go more than four hours without food, you already know that it’s easy to eat and eat a lot. When you eat small meals more frequently, you have less low blood sugar moments and feel less compelled to eat in response to your stress.
If it’s hard to find time to eat, make sure you have healthy snacks at work or in your gym bag, briefcase or home office. Otherwise it’s too easy to reach for junk food. It’s always available somewhere, right?
What should a healthy snack be? A lean protein, high fiber carb combination such as sliced fruit spread with peanut or almond butter, baby carrots or sugar snap peas dipped in hummus, trail mix made with a variety of items such as nuts, soy nuts, dried fruits, mini chocolate chips, whole grain pretzels, whole grain cereal, sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
For much more information: