6 ways to stop turning to food when you are stressed
So many of us turn to food for comfort when it feels like everything that can go wrong does go wrong. Reaching for a bag of chips, a carton of ice cream, or a box of cookies when you are feeling down feels like an easy solution.
The problem is that the quick fix of sugar and carbs is short lived and the moment you are done feeding the stress you are left feeling worse. Which leads to the question,
“So what did you really solve?”
The reason we reach for junk food to mend a broken heart, ease the demands of our jobs, settle our fears, or diminish sadness is caused by a combination of physical and mental desires along with a history of evolutionary tendencies to want to protect ourselves.
No matter how loudly your body screams, “FEED ME CRAP!” you know that a stress binge will leave you feeling sluggish and wondering, “Did I do that?!!”
So why do we do it?
Stress causes our bodies to automatically increase our breathing, our blood pressure, our heart rate, and the blood flow to our muscles. Your whole body goes into a “fight-or-flight response.” And that triggers your body to release a hormone called cortisol which increases your appetite.
Your body knows you need energy to deal with all the drama causing you to stress out and it’s “helping” by keeping you fueled for your fight. Worse, all that stress you feel suppresses your production of ghrelin which helps keep your appetite in check. So now you are starving, stressed, and pretty much anything goes when it comes to food. Our brains crave energy-dense foods high in calories, carbs, fat, and sugar because they provide the quickest boost. Thanks nature.
So what do we do about it?
Truthfully, EVERYONE has their own heap of drama to deal with daily: money, job, relationships, health issues; life is filled with a never-ending series of stress triggers. But we are powerful beings, smart enough to know what’s happening in our heads and in our bodies, and capable of making better choices. If we want to be our healthiest and happiest, we have to consciously make choices to take care of ourselves.
Here are six ways to keep a bad day from driving you to eat:
1. Get outside. One of the quickest and best ways I know to put the brakes on a binge eating disaster is to get outside. Go for a walk, a run, a swim. Heck, sit on your balcony or porch with a good book and a glass of water. Breathe in the air, soak up some sun, and let nature relieve your stress instead of pushing you to eat. There are no calories in the grass or the sand. Getting away from the kitchen is the key.
2. Attack a clutter project. Pick one annoying pile of clutter that irritates you every time you see it. Grab a trash bag and go after it. It could be as small as a drawer or as big as a whole closet in the basement. It could be a week’s worth of unfolded laundry or messy shelves in the garage. Time is precious and we are often too overwhelmed to keep up with little stuff. Then the little stuff starts feeling overwhelming. So clean it. Toss it. Give it away. The satisfaction you get from attacking just one eyesore will keep your mind and hands too busy for snacks.
3. Call a friend. Stress can keep you isolated. Think of the friends you haven't seen in a while and make a quick date for a short walk. Connecting with people you love automatically changes your attitude and your perspective. I love to laugh, which means most of my friends have a healthy dose of humor running through them. When I connect with friends and family, I can be certain to hear some great stories and lots of laughs. I can’t tell you how much better that makes me feel than eating. Friends and family trumps food every time.
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4. Make a list. Write down three tasks that you’ve been putting off. Pick one and start doing it. Once you put your mind on something else, junk food won’t be calling your name. Plus, you’ll end the de-stressing session with a nice line through your “to do” list. That’s a win!
5. Take a class. There are so many online courses to pursue, the sky's the limit on available topics. Surrounding yourself with like minded people who view health as a prioroty. This will put you in a better state to do the same. It is always great to add another nugget of knowledge to your tool chest. That's way more than I can say about that pint of Häagen Dazs.
6. Change your sheets. Okay, here’s one that might seem a little crazy, but hear me out. Fresh sheets feel like a new beginning. They smell good. They feel good. I don’t know about you, but I sleep better on fresh sheets. I wake up renewed and feeling clean. The simple act of stripping the bed and putting clean sheets on it says, “That’s over, and I’m ready to start fresh!”
What all six of these techniques have in common is that they remove you from easy access to junk food and they either get your body or your mind moving. You deserve to win and that means making winning choices.
When stress pushes you toward a quick fix and you feel like you are going to give in to a ton of worthless calories, you can fight back by making a winning choice. These are just six suggestions. There are about a million other ways to shift your focus, from washing your dog to planting a garden.
The invitation is still open, if you would like to join a community of like-minded people who can support you off the ledge when stress makes you feel that the only way to survive is to surrender to the junk food temptation, we are here for you. You are one click away from a funny and friendly support system. Here is the link again: http://bit.ly/SimpleHealthWellnessSolutions