Going crazy being confined to your home? One of the things that affect us most when we are cooped up at home is emotional overeating. We find comfort in food during times of stress, which is completely normal. There is nothing wrong with indulging in a cookie when the blues hit. However, when we do it too often, overeating can affect our health and stress levels in a negative way.
If you feel you are visiting the fridge far more often than usual, here are a few tips on how to prevent yourself from stress eating.
Take A Minute To Think
In order to combat overeating, it is important to understand what is causing it in the first place. There are many things that can trigger hunger hormones and overstimulate the appetite including boredom and stress.
Before heading to the refrigerator to make a snack, take a moment to determine whether you are genuinely hungry and need fuel or if there is another reason you are feeling peckish.
Before eating, take a moment to acknowledge your feelings as well. Do you feel a bit anxious, are you bored, or are you feeling a little bit lonely? By taking a few minutes to stop and evaluate the situation, you are able to get a clearer picture of all the emotions that compel you to overindulge. Recognizing these emotional triggers will make it is easier to take the necessary steps to avoid overeating when you start to feel emotional in the future.
If you are still facing problems with overeating and have feelings of guilt or shame after a meal or snack, it is best to reach out to a professional who can provide you with solutions based on your needs.
Don’t Deprive Yourself
The first rule of proper nutrition is to make sure you do not deprive yourself of food. When you are too hard on yourself and give yourself strict caloric restrictions, you are more likely to binge on unhealthy foods that are very high in calories. This is especially important when you are dealing with stress. Following a restrictive diet does more harm to your physical and mental well being, and for some, it can lead to excessive weight gain or an eating disorder.
Instead of depriving yourself of food, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables that keep you feeling fuller for longer and only treat yourself to a sugary or high carb snack every once in a while.
All things lead back to proper hydration. Being stuck indoors whether it is for work or other reasons gives us the perfect opportunity to focus on healthy habits and proper hydration. The coffee machine at the office is not there to tempt us anymore either! Drinking enough water throughout the day can help prevent overeating and improve your overall health.
Chronic dehydration leads to mood swings, poor concentration, and reduced energy levels, which can lead to emotional eating habits. Multiple studies have actually outlined that there is a strong link between dehydration and an increased risk of obesity.
In addition to that, drinking enough water also helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer after meals and can prevent you from overindulging during meals. According to research, participants who drank two glasses of water prior to their meals ate less than those who didn’t drink any water at all.
This one may be a bit more challenging to tackle, but it is an important step in preventing overeating. When boredom strikes, many of us don’t take advantage of the free time we have just been given. Instead, most of us pass the time by thinking about all the things that cause our stress levels to peak, which ultimately leads to stress eating.
Instead of feeling guilty for not having any work to do or a task to complete, use the time to craft or practice a new hobby you have been putting off because of pressing schedules. If you don’t have a hobby yet, use the free time to get organized or to do a spring clean.
Learning a new skill or cleaning up your space helps to distract you from all the stressors knocking at the door and also makes you feel more accomplished once you have completed the task or project.
Get Rid Of Temptation
A cute cookie jar or vase filled with colorful candy adds a fun and inviting aesthetic to your kitchen, but it also opens the door for temptation. Keeping tempting foods such as candy, crisps, cakes, and cookies on your counter can lead to frequent overeating. Just think about how many times you have grabbed a piece of candy out of the jar each time you have entered the kitchen. It becomes a habit.
According to research, keeping calorie-rich foods within eyesight stimulates the part of the brain that is responsible for impulse control, meaning that visual exposure to delicious foods like cookies and candy increases your cravings. This kind of temptation ultimately leads to overeating, especially if you are known to have a sweet tooth and can’t resist the urge to indulge in your favorite treat.
Instead of sprucing up your counters with these tempting foods, pack them away in the pantry so they are out of sight. There is no harm in indulging in these treats every now and then, but just be sure to limit the amount you eat.
Choose Foods That Are Filling
Choosing healthier, nutrient-dense foods that keep you feeling full in between meals is the best way to curb overeating patterns and keep your health in check during stressful times. Instead of stocking the fridge with empty calories like soda, ice cream, and milk chocolate, fill it with wholesome foods and snacks that are not only delicious but provide you with all the minerals and vitamins your body needs.
Foods that are high in fat, fiber, and protein are usually the winners at promoting satiety.
Here are few things to stock your kitchen with:
- Full fat unsweetened yogurt
- Cottage cheese
If you are stuck indoors due to the current situation or if you voluntarily work from home, you may find that cabin fever and boredom are causing you to stress and overeat. While enjoying a comforting snack every now and then can really help lift your spirits especially at this time, it is important to make sure you don’t go overboard. Emotional overeating can have a negative effect on your mental and physical health later on in life.
Acknowledging your emotions and practicing the tips above can help reduce food cravings brought on by stress. If you are struggling to curb your cravings or have feelings of guilt and shame after eating, it may be best to seek help from a professional that can guide you on how to overcome these thoughts and emotions.