During times like these, stress eating is not only unhealthy but can aggravate mental anguish. It is important to know how to avoid stress eating.
Sometimes the stress accumulates.
For example, you are running late for work and the car breaks down. You wait for over an hour for a tow truck. When you finally arrive at work, your daughter calls from school to say she is sick and needs to go home, but you have no car. You try calling your mother to help out but cannot reach her…NOW, YOU ARE STRESSED.
What about being in “self-quarantine” for two months because of a fatal virus infiltrating the population. Then, a tornado barrels through your backyard, destroying trees and ripping off shingles. Then, of course, you lose power, and all the food you bought to survive the quarantine is now in jeopardy of going bad…NOW, YOU ARE STRESSED.
There is no way around it: stress is simply a part of life.
It is so important to learn how to manage your stress and do NOT use food as a comfort or solution.
Here are some effective tips to avoid stress eating.
Sweat It Out…
As you become more physically fit, you become more mentally fit too, especially when it comes to stress.
Exercise offers a number of stress-busting perks, from protection against depressor to improved sleep.
Keep in mind, both aerobic exercise and strength training ease stress.
When you crave those comfort foods, go for a walk. Get up and stretch.
I chug a glass of water.
People who are physically active…
- reduce anxiety
- reduce the risk of depression
- are more resilient to stressful situations
- have lower levels of stress hormones
Stress hormones are inflammatory compounds and DNA-damaging compounds called free radicals, all of which increase stress and depression.
- tend to produce endorphin while working out
- are less likely to be obese
- tend to have a better quality of sleep
Make You a #1 Priority
Eating mashed potatoes, pizza, ice cream, and other comfort foods to suppress anxiety only leads to bloating, sluggishness, guilt, and eventual weight gain, which will leave you more stressed.
If you stay up late surfing the web, watching TV, or playing on your phone to forget about difficult times, you may be cutting into your sleep times. I am totally guilty of this one…
A lack of restful sleep disrupts your nervous system in a variety of ways, including raising cortisol and adrenaline, another stress hormone.
How do you prioritize yourself?
- Eat healthily.
- Turn off the TV.
- Do not use your phone for one hour prior to bed.
- Work in your garden
- Or do whatever it takes to get eight hours of sleep each night.
In my experience, when I exercise, I cannot wait to go to sleep.
Get a little help from your friends
Social help is critical to our well-being.
Having a network of family and friends who can lend a sympathetic ear, remind you of your wonderful attributes, or watch your kids when an unexpected event happens.
This network of support can help ease your stress levels.
Want to expand your social circle?
Try to reconnect with supportive friends that helped you years ago. Make sure to skip those that stressed you out.
Meet new people by volunteering at a charity event.
Be a supportive friend yourself; taking time to listen, plan get-together’s, and be giving in other ways.
Eat the right foods
Refined sugars and white carbs cause your blood sugar to spike and then cause it to crash, increasing stress and anxiety.
By choosing healthy foods such as avocados, eggs, and walnuts, you are creating good hormones that signal the brain’s feelings of satiety, mood regulation, and sleep.
They also balance your energy levels.
When stressed, your body increases hormone production that boosts appetite and sends unhealthy cravings soaring.
Stress can lead to a loss of lean muscle tissue when it decreases your metabolism and increases your risk of weight gain.
You may think your stress is harmless.
Indications of short term stress might be minor headaches, stomach cramps, weight gain, and more cold and flu episodes.
But chronic, unremitting stress can impact every part of your body from your digestive and reproductive systems to your immune system.
Ignored, stress can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and anxiety.
Final thoughts to avoid stress eating
During this COVID-19 drama, it can be very difficult to control your eating habits.
However, this is the perfect opportunity to reevaluate your meal plans and form a new relationship with food.
Get some exercise – don’t sit on the couch watching Netflix all day. Be productive!
Stay hydrated! Water consumption curbs your appetite and helps to avoid those moments of weakness, when you want to reach for the ice cream.
Recently, I figured out, when I drink water from a cup with a pre-measured amount, such as a water bottle that has 16.9 ozs staring me in the face…I drink more!
Control your portions! Make lunch your heaviest meal of the day.
Now that you are home, this should be an easy one.
Dinner should be light and easily digestible, so you will rest well and get plenty of sleep.
The recipe this week is an elevated grilled chicken breast.
Grilled Chicken with a creamy cheese sauce
Rub for the chicken breasts
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp table salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
For the cheese sauce
- 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 1/4 tsp. table salt
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
- 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded. DO NOT USE THE SHREDDED BAGGED STUFF
- Mix all rub ingredients in a bowl.
- Take two boneless, skinless chicken breast (or one large one sliced in half), pat it dry with paper towels and roll it in the rub, coating the meat thoroughly. Set aside.
- Startup grill and put on medium heat.
- While grill is heating up, prepare and cook sauce.
- In a medium-size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Once melted, whisk the flour in gradually, just until it begins to bubble around the edges.
- Add in milk slowly by pouring while you are whisking.
- Continue to whisk the sauce until completely heated through.
- Once it is hot, BUT NOT BOILING, add the shredded cheese, a little at a time.
- Whisk to incorporate the cheese, then add a little more.
- Once all the cheese has been added and incorporated, stir in the paprika and cayenne pepper.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Place a lid on the sauce and turn heat to the lowest setting.
- Prepare and clean the grill.
- Cook chicken until an internal temperature of 162º - 165º.
- Tent with foil, on a plate and let chicken rest for 10 minutes.
- Once it has rested, add chicken accumulated juices to your sauce.
- Stir sauce to incorporate.
- Drizzle sauce over chicken.
- Serve over saffron or yellow rice. Steamed broccoli works well as a side-dish.