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6 Tips to Avoid Stress Eating

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Most of us have done it, and then regretted it, and then done it some more. We eat to relax and eat to relieve stress, never far from our comfort foods. Typically, comfort foods involve a lot of simple sugars and processed carbohydrates (think: pizza, baked goods and candy).

In order to understand the drastic effects of stress eating, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the cycle of emotional eating

The Sugar Process

Simple sugars enter the bloodstream very quickly, giving you that blood sugar “high,” which corresponds to a release of feel good endorphins in the brain. This “high” is often followed by the equally impressive “low” that actually reactivates stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine that work to raise blood sugar levels back up to a stable state.

All this flying and crashing contributes to stress levels instead of alleviating them. Clearly, stress eating is not a good idea simply for the excess sugars and calories consumed. And, on a body chemical level, stress eating can actually make you feel more stressed…now that’s counterproductive!

6 Tips to Beat Stress Eating

The next time you’re tempted to reach for that cupcake or cookie when stressed or just plain tired, try these helpful tips first to help stop the urge in its tracks:

1. Take a 10-15 minute brisk walk. When you return, immediately drink a 16 oz. glass of water and then wait 15 more minutes.

2. Choose a complex carbohydrate, such as fruit, instead of simple processed sugars. These sugars take longer to break down and so the natural fructose release is more continuous with less spiking. Ideal complex carb options include: low-fat yogurt (no sugar!), milk, yams, dill pickles, apples, pears and berries.

3. Make yourself a cup of herbal tea (a top naturally energizing pick is Yerba Mate tea). Avoid caffeine.

4. Eat every 2-3 hours in small amounts to keep energy constant and to maintain the natural serotonin increase when you eat. Balance these meals with protein and a complex carb (no sugar!).

5. Be aware of what you eat and when by keeping a food diary. Simply focusing on the types of foods that go into your body and your triggers for eating them can help change habits.

6. Take a short nap. That’s right, take a quick catnap if you can to help reset your stress levels and prevent last-minute stress eating.

Too late? Have you already indulged? Check out our article Sugar Binge Recovery: 6 Ways to Reset Your System for some simple tips to help your body recover.

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