7 ways to avoid stress eating
Stress eating is understandable, but it’s no recipe for good health.
“People want to feel good and feel comfortable and stress is uncomfortable,” said Rochelle St. Onge, RD, LDN, a clinical dietitian with Cape Cod Healthcare.
But it’s important to limit your stress eating, which can cause weight gain or worsen diabetes and other preexisting conditions, she said. Those changes can then cause or increase depression or anxiety.
Each month this year has brought new things to worry about. With stress comes a feeling like you have a lack of control, she said, and choosing food is something that people can control.
“People need to keep eating fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods, but it’s OK to give ourselves a little break and have a small bowl of ice cream,” said St. Onge. “It may not be the most nourishing thing, physically, but it’s something that I feel nourishes people mentally.”
Here are her tips for making sure stress eating doesn’t get out of hand.
Structure Your Day
“If you're working from home or have kids at home, keeping a routine is definitely helpful. Try to stick to your traditional, healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner. That can help curb unwanted snacking.”
Keep Healthy Food Handy
“When you're stressed and you want to have a snack, you're not going to want to reach for something that you have to cut and wash. You're going to want to reach for something that's available, which is often chips or cookies. Instead, keep a couple of things prepared in your fridge that are easy to grab, like pre-washed and cut fruits and vegetables.”
Fight the Boredom
“People sometimes turn to snacking, especially unconscious snacking, when they're idle and bored. Find ways to distract yourself, rather than just going to the fridge or the snack cabinet all the time.”
“When you're itching to grab something from the fridge, grab a glass of water, seltzer or club soda, or dilute some fruit juice with water. Have a hydrating beverage first, and then see if you’re really hungry or just bored.”
Take a Break From the News
“Don’t stay plugged into the news cycle. I'll watch the evening news for 10 to 15 minutes, just to get an update, and then I shut it off. It's definitely something that's triggering and can cause you to eat more.
Calm Your Emotions
“What’s your favorite stress buster? Find room in the day for it. Music, exercise, taking a shower or long bath can all be ways to chill out.”
Stay Connected to People
“Things are beginning to reopen, so we can gradually reconnect in safe ways. Stay close to people outside your bubble by calling, texting or chatting on FaceTime or Zoom. How about sending a letter, a postcard or care package to a family member who lives far away? Let them know that you're thinking of them.”