5 tips to avoid stress eating

5 tips to avoid stress eating

Stress eating…we’ve all been there. A bad day at the office means a trip to the grocery store for your favorite gallon of cookie dough ice cream.

According to a study from the Technical University of Lisbon in Portugal, researchers discovered that in order to maintain or lose weight, emotional eating must be controlled and avoided. It has a direct association with weight gain and unhealthy food intake.

Dr. Jeffrey Rosen, bariatric surgeon at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., knows that breaking such a habit can be a difficult task, but preparation is the key.

He offers these five tips to avoid food when you are stressed out:

1.)     Go somewhere else away from the food — another room, for a walk or even run an errand.
2.)     Stop, think and then do. If you take the time to think about why you want to eat, you may make a healthier choice or you may do something else with your time.
3.)     Eat regularly. If you plan out your meals and snacks, instead of skipping meals, you will reduce your hunger cravings.
4.)     Add stress-reducing hobbies into your day, such as exercise, yoga, reading and other things to keep your anxiety levels down.
5.)     Call a friend. This can take your mind off of food and help you forget that you wanted to eat.

Rosen suggests you keep active and avoid boredom: “Idle time can trigger thoughts of food. If you find yourself eating just to eat it, this may be because of boredom or inactivity.”

If you do feel the need to eat, Rosen offers suggestions for healthy ideas, such as protein-enriched snacks, celery and peanut butter or nuts.

“Keep these healthy items around the house, in the car or in your bag. This way, they will be in reach when you have hunger,” Rosen says. “This can help you to avoid grabbing the candy bar or high-fat foods.”

What your body needs

The suggestion for calorie intake is at least 1,800 calories per day for women ages 14 to 50, and at least 2,000 calories per day for men over age 14, according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 (pdf).  These recommendations increase depending on each person’s activity level. Rosen suggests that you plan your meals and space them out.

“When you have all your calories for the day at one meal your body is overwhelmed and cannot process the foods correctly,” Rosen says. “This leads to storage of excess fat, which can result in weight gain.”

Eating the recommended caloric intake per day is great, but we often misinterpret that, Rosen says.  “It’s only great when we spread out those calories throughout the day so your body can process the nutrients appropriately.”

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One Comment

  1. I think an occassional unhealthy stress snack is ok as long as it does not become the only outlet. Sometimes a workout after a stressing situation is not what you want to do and therefore you just might not do anything. So if a large bowl of icecream or a chocolate bar or 2 works – I say go for it 🙂

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About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.