Reacting To Stress With Food

Some people seem to respond to much of life in a laid back way. Others become anxious and stressed more easily. If you have developed good coping skills, then you’re most likely the laid back, relaxed type. But when you react to stress with food, you may become frustrated even more with the unpleasant side effect of consuming that extra food.

If you happen to be the one who easily stresses and worries, here are a few tips to use instead of always reaching for food:

  1. Turn to good friends or close family members who are willing to let you discuss upsetting or frustrating situations without judgement.
  2. Make a list of the issues that are in your control and the ones that are not. Don’t spend time on the ones out of your control like other people’s behavior. Spend your energy focusing on problem solving the ones you have some control over like your relationship with your spouse.
  3. Anytime you’re anxious or worried about a particular upcoming event, focus your energy on preparing for it as much as possible. Knowing that you’ve done all that you can do to get ready is calming and reassuring.
  4. Make sleep a priority. Everything seems catastrophic when we are sleep-deprived.
  5. Add some exercise that you enjoy. Exercise is a great stress reliever, but if you don’t enjoy the process, it will be tough to begin. Whether you choose walking your dog, gardening, bike riding or swimming, pick something(s) that will keep you engaged.
  6. Decide on another outlet that you can channel your frustrations and worries. Journaling, music, meditation, art (even coloring), working out and socializing with friends are just a few.

Because eating when stressed does make you feel better temporarily, it provides a positive feedback. But unfortunately, it can also cause weight gain and feelings of shame and guilt. As with every new behavior, begin slowly and add a little each day. And know that some days you will eat in response to stress and that is okay. You are human, so strive for progress, not perfection. Family gardening

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Small Changes

When you want to change the look of your living room, do you buy all new furniture, curtains, carpet, pillows and lamps? Or do you start with small changes at first, maybe the curtains and pillows?

How you live your life is how you will approach most goals, but if eating healthier and losing weight is one of them, slow changes will make you more successful.

Your pattern of eating, whether it’s mostly healthy food but too much, or heavy on the processed, packaged foods, did not happen overnight. If you’re in your 40′s, it took that many years for your eating habits to become established. Trying to get rid of them immediately with willpower is a recipe for disaster.

If you really want to be successful in changing your eating, make small changes… consistently. Build on your successes. Start with a small change, such as eating an extra vegetable daily. When that is a normal part of your daily routine (like brushing your teeth), add another. Again, make it very achievable.

Taking away foods is deprivation and something that will not last long-term. But as you add nutrient-packed foods, you will be less inclined to eat the less than nutritious fare. When your “new” way of eating becomes habitual, then eating desserts and snack foods will be the less common (but totally acceptable) way to eat.

Think about this… you didn’t get to where you are in a couple of weeks, so why do you think you can undo years of behavior so quickly. Make daily, consistent changes until they are your new habit. Don’t give up after 2 weeks. This is a lifelong change and that is why Mindful Eating is so important. Enjoyable eating that meets nutritional needs.Man eating veggies

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Can You Make Up For Overeating?

We all do it sometimes. The scenarios may be different but you realize that you ate much more than you needed at the restaurant… party… movies… night alone watching TV. What do you do now? Can you make up for overeating? Should you skip lunch?

When you have overeaten, you may be tempted to “balance” out the extra calories consumed by depriving yourself at the next meal or the next day to “make up for it”. But not only won’t it help, it may be worse.

When you don’t eat, your body and it’s infinite wisdom, will compensate for the lack of fuel (sudden restriction) by actually slowing down your metabolism. This certainly is not what you want to happen after an overindulgence.

Here is how your miraculous body works. It needs fuel to provide you with energy. When you eat more than it needs (yup, that overeating scenario), it stores the excess as fat. So every time you overeat, more fat gets added on.

Rather than depriving yourself later, just get back to eating healthy meals and paying attention to your hunger and most importantly, to your fullness. Remember to eat protein and fiber with all meals and snacks to stay full and satisfied longer and keep your blood sugar stable.

If you’re struggling with frequent overeating and have difficulty stopping, contact me for a complementary consultation.

Blonde Girl Eats Pastry

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Cooking When You Don’t Have Time

Busy families often succumb to the convenience of processed, packaged food. Working parents have little time and are especially vulnerable to the quick and easy choices. Take-out is also a frequent option. How can you possibly add cooking when you don’t have time?

Lunchtime can be a problem too. Evenings are hectic and the thought of making lunches is just “one more thing” on your to do list. But according to the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, dieters who ate out for lunch even once a week lost 5 fewer pounds. I do not promote dieting or strictly counting pounds, but brown bagging definitely has a benefit.

To fit in cooking real food and packing lunch instead of convenience food, here are a few tips:

  1. Choose a day (maybe a weekend) and bulk cook. Foods like stews, casseroles, roasted chickens and rice can be cooked in large amounts and frozen into serving size.
  2. Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with real food that you can whip together in a meal- beans, frozen veggies, whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, canned tuna, canned (or carton) tomatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, nuts and seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, milk or milk alternatives, Greek yogurt, cheese, eggs and fruits.
  3. Keep an eye out for healthy recipes that are quick and easy. There are many!
  4. If you have children, involve them in the process, especially prep and cooking. Although you’ll initially invest more time, it will be well spent.
  5. Plan a menu each week. Ask for input from the family. If you don’t plan, you’ll choose the “other” route.
  6. Use your crockpot. I have a couple of favorite crockpot recipes. Throw the ingredients into the crockpot before you leave and dinner awaits you when you return.
  7. If you must by pre-packaged food, at least buy the best. Organic or one with no additives, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors and the less ingredients, the better.
  8. When you do cook a meal, always double it so you can freeze one for another time.

With just some tweaking and pre-planning, you can change your processed, convenience foods to clean, healthy eating.  Here’s a menu planner you can use to help with the #5. Menu Planner-3

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