Stressed Out? Watch What You Eat
Chronic, low-grade stress and overeating have a close relationship. Stress hormones can make you seek pleasure from sweet, fatty “comfort” foods. These foods, in turn, lower levels of stress hormones. We are self-medicating when we relieve our frustrations with chocolate éclairs and macaroni and cheese. It does make us feel better, temporarily.
But in the long term, stress-driven eating just makes things worse, because extra calories create extra pounds that can lead to health problems.
Stress eating is hard to control. We know what we should be doing, but some part of our brain says, “Eat!”
These strategies really can help get stress eating under control:
• Get enough sleep. Don’t eat when what you really need is a nap or a good night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels.
• Exercise instead of eating. Exercise does the same thing as eating a sugary, fatty snack. It reduces levels of stress hormones—but without the calories and without the plunge in blood sugar later that leads to more cravings.
• If you can’t control yourself, at least control your environment. Keep trigger foods out of the house. Stock up with realistic substitutes, like yogurt instead of ice cream, or dark semi-sweet chocolate instead of big gooey brownies. Avoid refined carbohydrates and sweets, which only fuel your appetite.
• Don’t eat when you should be drinking. This is especially true if you find yourself craving juice, soda, or even a beer. Drink a big glass of water and watch yourself perk up and your craving disappear.
• Learn a stress management technique. Yoga, mindfulness meditation or breathing techniques can reduce stress hormones. Learn something you can use to instantly reduce your reaction to stress, and you’ll be on your way to a more peaceful existence and a thinner waistline!
The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: Letting stress get the best of you can have disasterous health consequences. Keep stress-driven eating to a minimum by learning how to deal with stress in a positive manner, rather than using food to make yourself feel good. Be sure to get enough sleep, exercise, stay hydrated and try to keep “trigger” foods out of the house.
QUICK TIP: Keeping your stress levels under control is important for heart health! Learn More
Written exclusively for Stop Aging Now, the authority on anti-aging research, anti-aging nutrition, and anti-aging supplements.