How to Stop Overeating: 3 Tips to Avoid Stress Eating During the Coronavirus Pandemic by Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND
Life in quarantine has disrupted all of our lives. Our world has been reduced to our home, with many of us stuck behind our desks, which can lead to stress and overeating. But overeating isn’t the only stress-related behavior that can add pounds. Stressed people often lose sleep, exercise less and drink more alcohol, all of which can contribute to becoming overweight.
What Is Stress Eating?
Stress can bring on fatigue or depression, so healthy eating might take a back seat to foods that are comforting. Those high-calorie comfort foods can stimulate the release of certain chemicals in the brain that make us feel good, but also make us want to keep eating. In a vicious cycle, overeating can lead to weight gain, increasing stress and which, in turn, can lead to more overeating. So before you walk to the kitchen in search of comfort food, here’s some “food for thought” and three tips to help avoid stress eating:
- Own up to your feelings. You know that emotions are the trigger for your stress eating, so why not acknowledge them? It’s OK to feel mad, lonely or bored sometimes. The feelings may be unpleasant, but they’re not dangerous, and you don’t always need to “fix” them. Let your emotions come and go without judging them.
- Eat regularly and don’t skip meals. Give yourself permission to eat. When you’re stressed, it’s easy to put meals off or even skip them all together. But your energy levels may suffer as a result, and you might even end up overdoing it when you do finally eat. If stress is an appetite killer, try eating smaller amounts of food more often during the day.
- Cut back on caffeine. People often feel a lack of energy when they’re stressed and turn to caffeine as a pick-me-up, but it can disrupt your sleep at night. If caffeine keeps you awake at night, drink decaffeinated coffees and teas.
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