5 Ways to Finally Stop the Stress Eating
By Tina Haupert
Sticking to my new Lose the Dough plan is harder than I thought. While I've had no trouble getting to the gym, focusing on my mental health, and incorporating more fruits and veggies, stress eating is really getting in the way of my weight-loss efforts. After all, it's pretty hard to see the scale move in the right direction when you're downing five bowls of cereal at a time.
The source of all this stress? For the past couple of weeks, my husband and I have been trying to sublet our apartment. We live in a gorgeous loft-style apartment in the heart of South Boston, so we figured we'd have no problem renting it. But after at least 10 visits by prospective renters, and no bites, I've started to feel really, really stressed.
One night, after showing our apartment to yet another couple who decided not to rent, I ended up looking for solace from my favorite cereal. I know—food is not a good way to deal with my emotions. I usually have a bowl of cereal for dessert, but this time that bowl quickly turned into a box.
Five consecutive bowls of sweet, flaky cereal later, I wasn't worrying about my apartment. But I was worrying about all the extra calories I'd consumed in just 15 minutes. This was not part of the Lose the Dough plan.
I'm going to cut myself a little slack, because maybe starting a new diet during a stressful time in my life wasn't the best idea. And if I get too down on myself now, I'll never lose the weight by my 30th birthday. Going forward, though, I'm going to remember these five strategies for handling emotional eating.
1. Eat enough during the day. I've noticed that if I don't eat substantial meals that include fiber-packed carbs, low-fat protein, and healthy fats, I usually encounter crazy cravings later. Now, I make sure that all of my meals and snacks include a combination of all three.
2. Keep "trigger foods" out of the house. Cookies, chocolate, and sugary cereal are foods that give me trouble when it comes to portion size. Instead of keeping a bag of my favorite foods in the house, I don't purchase them, so they are not a temptation. But I do enjoy them on special occasions!
3. Don't mistake thirst for hunger. In the afternoon, especially right after lunch, I always feel "hungry." But much of the time, my hunger pangs are satisfied with a big swig of water or a hot mug of tea. A little hydration goes a long way when it comes to dealing with emotional eating.
4. Eat by the clock. If I just ate a meal or a snack, I will try to wait at least 20 minutes before I eat something else. When I wait, I put a buffer between myself and the food, which helps make the temptation go away.
5. Don't be so hard on yourself. A single slipup like the other night isn't going to ruin my Lose the Dough goal. And, if I do overdo it, I don't let it become an excuse to continue to eat poorly. I don't get down on myself and I make sure to get back on track the very next time I eat.