Many tend to eat for emotional reasons: to compensate for a bad day, to find comfort when feeling low or lonely, or to escape from problems. So, the result is that we balloon to an unhealthy weight without any idea how to stop stress eating.
Stress stimulates adrenal glands to release cortisol – an “alarm system” in our body. This hormone:
- Controls the use of carbohydrates, fats, proteins
- Keeps inflammation down
- Increases glucose
- Stabilizes blood pressure
- Regulates sleep/wake cycle
- Boosts energy
The “fight-or-flight” response triggers cortisol to alert and shut down vital functions of the body: immune system, digestive and reproductive system. After the pressure passes, cortisol levels calm down. However, when we constantly worried or anxious – the hormone balance is derailed.
How to combat stress eating
We all find excuses to do things that we know work against our well-being. Whether we think of sugar as comfort food or overeat after work as a way to de-stress, whether we think of drinking water and eating vegetables as boring; it’s the thought that informs the action.
Make a list
Often, we aren’t willing to embark on a major change until we finally hit the tipping point. When “enough is enough”, we reach that moment when we are willing to learn how to combat stress eating. Envision what “perfect” health looks and feels like to you. Think of long-term health benefits as a Christmas wish list that will require your effort and time to achieve.
Treat your lovely self not with a candy bar or a portion of french fries, but with mind and body healing tricks. The best medicine for anxiety and tension is checking out to recharge your happiness battery – get out of the city on your day off. Go somewhere at a slower pace.
Don’t have an opportunity to leave the city – take a walk in the park. When stressed, decompress by getting a relaxing massage or a facial, buy a spa treatment: these are genuine acts of self-care that will stop you from overeating. Treats like that are better than keeping visiting your kitchen for, well…for whatever’s there.
VERV team constantly points out to the importance of sleep – it’s truly essential for maintaining a healthy body and sound mind.
Sleep deprivation affects serotonin levels. The depletion of this powerful brain chemical makes you feel depressed and pushes you to crave “comfort food”. Sweets and carbs provide a temporary euphoric feeling by rapidly increasing serotonin levels followed by a shocking crash. The dramatic lowering of this biochemical leads to anxiety and binge eating. We get trapped in the cycle of indulgence. To get better sleep:
- Modify morning behaviors – skip pressing “snooze”. Get out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off. By snoozing, you keep the body in a shallow sleep state – it will leave you feeling even less rested.
- Set sleep and wake times – be consistent.
- Take a relaxing bath with aroma oils at night time.
- Turn off electronic gadgets before bed. Screen light keeps your brain stimulated and awake. It’s better to read a book in dim light until you feel sleepy.
Some refer to the concept of yoga as “mind-body hygiene”. Like flossing our teeth, we cleanse the problem thoughts from our mind during daily meditation and reduce the chance of hormonal imbalance that brings to inflammation and increased appetite.
Turn off your phone
Be mindful of what’s going on around you while you are having a meal. Focus on the whole experience. Instead of shoving food in your mouth while scrolling through the phone, taste every bite you take. Even during lunch break we often keep getting text messages, notifications, emails. Honor this time to find true pleasure in nourishment.
Celebrate all you can do
Society puts a lot of pressure on us – we have a reckoning with this ideal of self-improvement. Constant anxiety over the idea of not being good enough can lead us to unhealthy diet choices.
You can avoid stress eating by learning how to appreciate incremental progress. Don’t lose sight of your current achievements and strengths. Next time you’re feeling critical for coming up short – make a list of the skill sets and hobbies that you take pride in. Appreciate all that makes you uniquely you.
Now you have a few tips on how to control stress eating – don’t wait till tomorrow. We have enormous power over misleading thoughts – control your state of wellness. With a few changes, you could be better equipped for the turmoil of daily life.