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How to beat stress eating

Plenty of things to be stressed about at the moment. Unfortunately, as the level of our stress hormones increase, so does our appetite. To ease the stress our bodies crave food, especially junk food. This works to some extend in the short run, but longer term it only makes things worse.

If we make better choices when the going gets tough, we can alleviate stress in the long run and reduce cravings.

Food and stress are very much interlinked. Certain foods, like sugary snacks, can make us feel good for a short while, but in the long run they can cause depression. Our gut is connected to our brain and certain types of gut bacteria can increase appetite. What we eat can trigger our emotions and our emotions can trigger what we eat. There is a direct correlation between digestion, mental health, well-being and cravings. Understanding this will help making better decisions.

I think most of us are aware which foods are bad for us and which ones are good. It doesn’t have to be complicated: Eat real food. Plenty of vegetables, a little fruit, meat, fish, eggs and avoid the rest. We just need some strategies to help us make good choices. Once you start doing this, it will get easier and easier. A healthy diet will help re-balance your hormones and your hunger and satiation system will start working properly again. It will also stabilise your blood sugar levels, keeping your energy levels more steady throughout the day.

When the cravings hit, first drink a large glass of water. I know it is not what you want, but thirst can make us want food, so no harm in eliminating that first.

Next, distract yourself with something else, something you like. Read a magazine, paint your nails, do a little gardening, listen to a podcast or music, have a boogie, put on a face mask (the skincare variety), have a bath, go for a walk, play with your children or pets, etc. Cravings come and go in waves. By the time you have distracted yourself, the moment may have passed and you will conquered the craving.

Do stuff that makes you feel fulfilled, not just that makes you busy. When you feel unfulfilled, you’re more likely to reach for food for satisfaction. Take up an old or wished-for hobby or interest. Stay in touch with friends and get back into touch with old friends. Do something fun with loved ones.

Find accountability buddies. Make a pact with someone and when you’re tempted to reach for junk food, reach out to them and let them talk you out of it. Share food diaries at the end of each day. Let me know if you would be interested in joining an accountability Facebook group.

Roël :)

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