If you find yourself itching for unhealthy foods during the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re not alone. In times of stress, I often turn to junk food as a coping mechanism. It’s because emotional eating, or stress eating, often works as a way to release chemicals in our brain like dopamine that trigger our pleasure center and make us feel temporarily better. However, the results are ultimately destructive and can ruin our healthy eating habits. That’s why I’d like to share some tips on how to avoid stress eating.
According to the American Psychological Association, 33% of adults who report overeating or eating unhealthy foods because of stress say they do so because it’s a distraction from stress. Also, 27% of adults say they eat to manage stress because it provides a source of comfort.
With stay at home orders due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easier now more than ever to simply abandon your healthy eating habits. However, with a little bit of thought and planning, you can make good food choices during any stressful period. Here’s some tips on how to avoid stress eating at home.
Have a Hunger Reality Check
The Mayo Clinic recommends doing a “self-check” before snacking. Is your hunger physical, or is it really emotional? Sometimes it’s wise to let the craving pass. For myself, I often drink a glass of water when I’m craving a snack. It turns out I’m usually more dehydrated than actually hungry.
Exercise Instead of Eating
Remove the idea you must eat unhealthy snacks to calm your stress and replace it with a walk around the block. Harvard Health says that exercise is a crucial component of stress management because physical activity can actually reduce cortisol levels. In addition, yoga is a great activity to practice in order to help calm the mind. If you’re bemoaning the fact that all the yoga studios are closed during quarantine, don’t worry. I’ve catalogued the 6 Best Yoga YouTube Channels in a separate blog post for you to check out.
Know Your Pressure Points
It’s important to understand what’s causing you stress and when you’re most vulnerable. Is it after an argument with your spouse? Or when you come home from work? Being aware of your triggers is a great way to stop unhealthy eating habits. Also, it’s a good idea to keep away any hard-to-resist comfort foods. When you have no temptation, there’s no regret.
If you can’t control the urge to overeat, then snack healthy between meals. The Mayo Clinic recommends snacking on fresh fruit, nuts, unbuttered popcorn, or vegetables with a low-fat dip. Or, try to find a lower-calorie version of your go-to favorite food. For example, I found Bagel Skinny’s that were only 110 calories that are simply delicious when toasted and topped with low-fat hummus.
Be Mindful of Alcohol Intake
Before reaching for that bottle of Moscato, keep in mind that alcohol lowers your inhibitions, increases appetite, and may increase your chances of overeating. Plus, drinking too much alcohol harms your health in a number of ways. For more information on how alcohol affects your body, please follow this link.
Was there a tip I missed that keeps you from stress eating? I’d love to hear your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to receive more great blog tips straight to your inbox each Friday.