Life and managing a business can be stressful and eating takes your mind off feelings and comforts you. However, eating in response to emotions and not hunger can result in overeating, unwanted weight gain and even greater stress. Who wants to sit in the office feeling uncomfortable all day? Do you really like turning up to meetings in an ill-fitting suit?
The problem is once we feel this, it is not unusual for us to get caught in a vicious circle of overeating and weight gain: we feel depressed, lonely or frustrated, we eat, we gain weight and we become more frustrated and… there we go again!
Here are some useful tips to avoid emotional eating:
- Avoid “trigger foods”
These are the foods you crave when you’re upset. That doesn’t mean we can’t have these foods, but when they’re in the house, access is too easy and we tend to turn to them quickly before dealing with our emotions. If you reach for the potato chips bag every time you feel frustrated, it may be a good idea to leave them out of your house and thus out of your cart on your next trip to the grocery store.
- Plan your counter-attack
Put a list of the foods that trigger emotions in you. For instance if you notice that when you’re at work you behave very well towards food, but once you’re back home the fiasco starts, then try to find a way to release the stress before coming back home. For instance, get into your comfortable shoes and walk back home if possible or hit the gym after the office!
- Plan your meals and snacks
If you wait until you are starved, you’re more likely to reach for the wrong foods and to overeat. You may also find yourself nibbling all the way through meal preparation.
- Make your refrigerator a healthy one
One of the easiest ways to ensure healthier eating is to leave you no choice but healthy food! Fill that refrigerator up with healthy nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, yogurt and milk.
- Reward yourself when you eat in a healthy way
Rewarding yourself will increase the likelihood that you will maintain your new healthy habits.
- Get more sleep
Ghrelin, a hormone that signals hunger, rises if you don’t rest enough; a less obvious cause of emotional eating is lack of sleep. At the same time, leptin, the hormone that signals fullness, decreases. This could lead to overeating. Plus, being tired could increase irritability and cravings for comfort food. Make sure you`re getting your 7-8 hours of sleep daily.
Another great way keep your even out your stress levels and therefore stop overeating when stressed is by keeping fit. Often though, we stress about finding the time to implement a keep fit plan in to our work day. This may mean that you have to wake up slightly earlier. To help, read our article on how to wake up earlier here.
Farah Chabib, Clinical Dietician, Medi Weight Loss