That Donut is NOT a Therapist!
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Kathy Redlinger, MS, RD, CDE
Women’s Heart Secrets Program Registered Dietitian
Stress eating — it happens to the best of us. Work piling up, kids to
take care of, not getting enough sleep, maybe some financial pressures —
it’s all enough to stress out even the strongest person. Many women,
when those pressures get to be too much, turn to food as a coping
mechanism. Many times this “coping food” is something sweet, fatty or
both. Overeating only exacerbates stress, though. Luckily, there are a
few easy steps you can take to ward off those unhealthy cravings.
Tame The Stress
If stress is the root of your emotional eating, then it only
makes sense to tackle that first. There are several stress
management techniques that work wonders such as deep breathing,
yoga or meditation. Better yet, physical activity is an
excellent stress reliever. Making a conscious effort to get
enough sleep will also help you deal with daily stresses more
Wait It Out
Sometimes it can be difficult to decipher actual hunger pangs
from an emotional craving. If you recently ate when a craving
attacks, that’s a clear sign your desire to eat is emotional,
not physical. If you force yourself to wait a little while, the
craving should subside on its own.
Remove The Temptation
This is probably the easiest step you can take. If you know
you’re prone to using certain unhealthy food to cope with
stress, simply don’t buy it in the first place. If it’s not in
the house, you’re far less likely to eat it. These types of
emotional cravings are typically impulsive urges and by the time
it would take you to get your purse, get into your car and drive
to the grocery store, they will have waned.
Without a strong support network, you’re more likely to seek
refuge in food. Talk with friends or family or join a support
group. If those don’t work, you could consider consulting with a
therapist. A professional can help you get to the root of your
stress eating and work through ways to overcome it. Knowing
what’s causing the problem is the first step in solving it.
Don’t Go Cold Turkey
If you are dieting with a specific weight-loss goal in mind,
completely cutting out all the treats you enjoy will only serve
to make your cravings more frequent and ferocious. If you let
yourself enjoy the occasional treat in moderation, you won’t
resort to overindulging when stress challenges you.
Finally, if despite your best efforts you overindulge, forgive yourself
and work to eat healthier the next day. Tomorrow is another day and,
even if your healthy eating crashes and burns one day, by sticking with
your plan and not becoming completely derailed you will
reach your health and fitness goals. Good luck!
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in the Heart Secrets blog.