Are you interested in learning how to stop stress eating? Whenever you are experiencing physical or psychological stress, your brain releases the hormones cortisol and adrenaline to help you handle the "danger." Cortisol helps to bring your system back to balance and it often accomplishes this by signaling the body to eat and replenish the energy that should have been used during the stressful situation. However, you most likely were just sitting in a meeting or dealing with a personal problem, and your body really doesn’t need to replenish calories. This is why when you're stressed, you may choose to grab that bag of potato chips or eat some ice cream to make yourself feel better. So instead, the next time you feel stressed, use what you learn here on how to stop stress eating and chill out!
1. Exercise outside Vs. inside
This is a great way to burn calories and chill out all at the same time. Going for a 20 minute stroll outside twice a week has been proven to be more restorative than getting the same exercise in an indoor environment. Exercise as a whole is a great way to relieve stress, but it is even better if you do it outside on a nice day. So instead of hitting the gym when you want to relieve your stress and burn some calories, put on your cutest workout outfit and hit your nearest park. It's much more relaxing to look around at trees, grass, and birds than at the TV's on your treadmill at the gym!
2. Disconnect from Your Cyber World
Yes, it helps you feel connected, but compulsively checking emails, texts, and your Facebook can also be a cause of your stress and anxiety. If you feel yourself stressing out one day, try to put away your phone for an hour, or promise to not look at Facebook until you feel more relaxed. The thing about Facebook is that it tends to cause you anxiety even if you don't already have it when logging on. I can't tell you how many times I saw posts from an ex, pictures of other people looking skinnier and more fit than me, or seeing friends tagged together at an event I wasn't able to go to, that made me feel awful. So unplug, and instead of spending your time sitting at your computer, go outside and enjoy reality!
3. Dine-in, Don't Take-out
If you want to learn how to stop stress eating, then we need to look at how you're actually eating! When you dine in a pleasant environment, you naturally feel more relaxed. Thus, if you take the time to relax and enjoy your food, you will be better able to really focus on what your eating, which prevents overeating. So the next time you're eating, sit at your dining room table and not in front of your TV or computer. Also, remind yourself to eat slowly and savor every bite! If you're eating lunch at work, take it outside to eat or into the break room instead of eating it at your desk.
To keep stress in check, make fatty fish your new dietary best friend! Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish such as salmon and tuna, can prevent surges in stress hormones and may help protect against heart disease, mood disorders like depression, and even PMS. For a steady supply of feel-good omega-3s, aim to eat 3 ounces of fatty fish at least twice a week. Plus, fatty fish are a great dieting food as they only contain "good" fats that your body needs and are relatively lower in calories than meat.
5. Curl up with a Book
Six minutes could be all it takes to reduce your stress by 60 percent! Sitting down with a good book is an instant stress reliever... if you are able to read in a quiet environment that is. Try taking your book outside to read or alone in your bedroom. The fewer distractions, the better! So catch up on your overdue reading, even if you have to do it one chapter at a time! Of course, feel free to read for more than six minutes, I've never had a book that I've been reading where I could put it down after only six minutes. Plus you are less likely to grab a stress eating snack in front of a book than you would in front of a TV or computer.
6. Furry Stress Relievers
It’s virtually impossible to stay in a bad mood when a pair of loving puppy eyes meets yours, or when a super-soft cat rubs up against your hand. Owning a dog though has the added benefit of making us exercise! Dog owners spend more time walking than non-pet owners because people are more likely to enjoy a walk when they have companionship. So you get to enjoy the stress relief that a pet provides most people, as well as the added benefit of exercising with your pet outside. If you can't own a dog or any other pet, volunteer at an animal shelter or offer to take your friend's dog for a walk!
7. Make Tea
Drinking any kind of warm beverage forces you to slow down for a moment. Well, either you slow down or you can scorch your tongue! The best tea to make for reducing stress (as well as increase your metabolism) is green tea. Green tea contains antioxidants along with other compounds that help relieve many forms of stress. Make this drink even better by adding some honey to it! The sugary taste will give you the sweetness your stress causes you to crave, without the bad calorie intake that eating something else that's full of refined sugar will cause.
8. Dark Chocolate
Here's some good news for chocolate lovers everywhere; dark chocolate has been shown by research to have real stress relieving properties as well as other benefits to health! Researchers found that eating the equivalent of one average-sized dark chocolate candy bar each day for two weeks reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. So instead of stress eating, grab a dark chocolate bar when you feel stressed. The calories aren't as bad as eating other types of chocolate, plus it will relieve the "need to eat" feeling quicker that's cause by the hormone cortisol. Plus, chocolate has been known to make people happier!
9. Take up Yoga or Meditation
Relaxation techniques are the most popular way to reverse the damaging effects that stress exerts on your body. Meditation and Yoga help to lower cortisol levels and thus keep you from stress eating. Combined with proper diet, relaxation techniques have helped many people to lose weight by stimulating the release of belly fat. So if you're feeling stressed out, instead of doing your regular gym routine to help work out your frustrations, try a yoga class instead! You will still be burning calories but will also be forced to enter a relaxing environment that will help de-stress your mind and body.
10. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
One of the main tips for weight loss that I always come across is to make sure you get a full nights sleep. Sleeping for the amount of time that's right for your body will help you feel rested, which can reduce the hold that stress has over you during the day. On average, we all need about 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night to stay healthy. So avoid any caffeine or alcohol in the afternoon because it will keep you in the lighter stages of sleep at night. Once you regularly start getting enough sleep each night, you will see the pounds come off!
Always remember that weight gain is accelerated by poor diet, lack of physical activity and stress. So if you hit a speed bump in your diet and exercise plan, stress may be the culprit! If your stress is causing you to eat more or unhealthy foods, just remember that giving into that temptation is just going to make you even more stressed out. What are some ways that you reduce your stress? Do you find that reducing your stress helps you lose weight?
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