Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ten plus two ways to deal with stress eating

Stress happens. It's a fact of life.

And some of us tend to deal with stress by eating. I eat a healthy balanced diet until stress wears me down, then I eat junk food.
Junk food is easy to find, it's everywhere. It is more of a challenge to eat whole, fresh food than it is to eat processed stuff. Of course, eating sugar and empty calories makes it harder to deal with stress, so that's a pretty self destructive behavior.

I came up with this list of ways to help me get myself back on track.

1. Allow your compulsive streak to come out. Count crackers, set a timer to tell you when to drink water, write a journal of everything that goes into your mouth. There's comfort in compulsions.

2. Drink lots of water. Whether you set a timer, make it a point to take a drink every time you stand up or hit enter on your computer or you set a gallon jug on your desk and drink it all day, just drink lots of water.

3. Stock up on your favorite healty treats. Fill your world with carrots, grapes, celery, vegetable juices, green beans, good foods that you like to eat. Bag them in ways that make it easy to grab a few at any time during the day.

3.5 - Give yourself permission to snack. If you're like me, you're going to do it anyway. Just try to make it easier to snack on healthy foods. Don't add guilt trips over snacking to your stress level.

4. Make good-for-you foods easily accessible. If I have to walk by the bowl of chocolates on the office manager's desk to get to my carrots in the fridge, which do you think I'm going to snack on? So take up a pretty bowl of carrots and put it on your desk.

5. Treat yourself to healthy food that you don't normally go out and buy. I buy string cheese for myself when I am stress eating. I buy three sticks at a time. Normally, I'll buy a block of mozarella and figure I can cut off chunks. It is cheaper to buy it that way. So, string cheese is a guilty pleasure.

Finding something to do with your hands other than popping food
into your mouth can help curb stress eating, too. I'm crocheting
a scarf here,with the calming assistance of Halfie and Scrapie
to keep me settled in my chair.
6. When you buy something like crackers, where you know you'll eat the whole box, also buy a box of the snack-sized ziploc bags. Read what a serving size is for the crackers, usually a funny number like 7 or 22, and put a serving in a ziploc bag. Count out the whole box of crackers into individual serving sized bags. Put all the bags of crackers in a box, or bigger bag or desk drawer where you have to get up to get them. Allow yourself to eat crackers that don't count while you are bagging the rest. Enjoy the mindless compulsive cracker-counting break from the whirlwind of life.

7. Eat enough protein. I am mostly vegetarian. I find when I don't get enough protein, I get cravings. Protein makes cravings go away.

8. Pay attention to what you are eating. Before grabbing that tub of ice cream or the sugar-loaded coffee drink, get a drink of water and take a walk around the building. Give yourself a chance to remind yourself of the consequences of stress eating.

9. Play with your food. Enjoy finding tastes that blend well. Eat a carrot in the same bite as an almond. Put two celery sticks around a cheese stick. Pop a grape tomato. Arrange cherries and basil leaves in a pretty design on a plate on your desk.

10. If you eat junk food for a day - Don't stress about it! Things will change, life will calm down and then you can get on top of what you are eating. Don't compound your stress by stressing about what you are eating.

I wrote this list for me, your mileage may vary. If you have a favorite way of dealing with stress eating, please share it here.


Vicki said...

Thanks for keeping me on track!

Obviously, I jumped the track in the past few months, but I'm working hard to knock off the extra pounds...and I do mean extra.

Dr. Oz had a good idea for enjoying dip. He suggested that if you must have chips with dip try alternating chips and veggies.

Happy healthy eating!

Dael Haskell said...

When I get stressed I try to eat preemptively.

I make a big veggie smoothie with lots of spinach, cabbage, carrots. This tends to fill me up so much that I don't even want snacks.

If I am not in the mood for a smoothie I will steam a butternut or spaghetti squash and find something not too horrid to put on top, like thai peanut sauce, with lots of peanuts, or sundried tomato and mushroom sauce (yum!).

Also spice your food up, not enough to override the flavor but enough to slap around your taste buds a bit. I find spicy food much more satisfying.

Unknown said...

that is a great list jeanette. just being thoughtful about the food we eat really helps. i admire you.