When you’re stressed, do you ever find yourself munching on chips or ice cream, candy, chocolate. But then actually, you think about it and you’re truly actually not that hungry. Now there’s fascinating chemistry behind this common habit, and strategies for breaking it. While short term, intense stress can shut down your appetite, chronic stress can do just the opposite.
As many have noticed, it’s typically not the broccoli, or carrots or the fruit that we’re going to dive into while we’re in a stressful situation. Instead we go for the “comfort foods”. High in sugar, fat or both. We crave such foods because they can counteract some of the physical reactions and emotions related to the body’s stress response. Stress related eating can have a serious consequence, if it becomes a regular habit.
A recent study suggests that over eating and high fat foods, these comfort foods, they can lead to obesity by disrupting the body’s appetite control. A delicate system of hormones that communicate between our brain in our bellies, if you will. Moreover, eating doesn’t actually help to change whatever’s causing the stress. Getting regular exercise, and committing the practice of being mindful of meditation and yoga. Those can actually help cope with the stress in a very healthy way.
Also, start to tune into your body signals before you start eating. Ask yourself, are you truly hungry? My rule of thumb, I tell my clients is, if you think you’re hungry, and you’ve recently eaten and you really know you’re not, down a glass of water, most likely you’re dehydrated. Wait 15 to 20 minutes and ask yourself the question again, “Am I truly hungry?” A lot of times at late night, we’ll eat just out of mindlessly eating, watching TV, doing whatever, and it becomes a ritual, right?
I tell clients either, one, if you’re tired, put yourself to bed if it’s close to bedtime. Don’t go and snack late night. Or if you have to have something and you are truly hungry, just choose a better alternative. Don’t go for those comfort foods. Because at the end of the day, it’s just going to add to your waistline and it’s not going to help with the stress.
Find something else you can turn to. Read a book, call a friend, do something else that will help with your mindfulness. Do some meditation, do some prayer. Something to get you out of that loop, of just going to those foods when you’re in those stressful situations or the late night eating. Try that, see how it goes, be mindful of it. I guarantee, do it time and time again, and eventually that bad habit goes away.