Research has revealed that stress has the potential to cause overeating. When stress is chronic it increases the amount of cortisol in our bodies. Cortisol is the hormone in charge of producing appetite. As a result, people can experience heightened hunger, weight gain and binge. Below are some habits to ensure the likely stress from a lockdown doesn’t cause you to use food as an outlet or overeat.
Self-discipline is a fundamental means to avoid stress eating. It propels you to manage eating mindlessly and start eating mindfully. Scientists say 95 percent of who we are today is due to subconscious programs which we have memorised. Hence, it is important for your brain to connect overeating with a negative outcome. This will allow you to produce a positive reaction, in this case avoiding the temptation to eat when it’s not necessary. Self-discipline in this case won’t feel like a punishment when it’s connected to bringing a good outcome like sound health.
Plan Your Meals
While you’re confined to your house it is good to stay up to date with what you eat daily. If you are inclined to forget, keeping a food journal or mobile app may be just what you need. Findings have indicated that self-monitoring methods like journaling your food intake aids with weight loss or control. Likewise, it will assist you keep track of your meals intake and become mindful of your eating patterns, hence, equip you keep it in check.
Knowing your trigger foods
If you are aware that you’re unable to resist it, then don’t look or even touch it. As hard as it may sound, it is key to identify foods that you find irresistible and avoid them completely. Stress eating can make you finish in a day what would have normally taken you through a whole week. Some people, when grocery shopping, avoid certain isles completely due to the temptations they find irresistible. For instance, if ice-cream is a trigger for you, and can lead you to go on an eating spree while feeling stressed, ensure you don’t buy it in the first place.
The harder it is to see or get to something, the less likely you’ll find yourself overeating it. However, if having certain foods at home is unavoidable due to other people’s preferences, a helpful way to practice avoidance is keeping it out of sight or inaccessibility. Like the famous saying, “out of sight, out of mind.” With this, you won’t have to walk past it constantly and burden yourself with the trouble of having to fight the edge.
Practicing Eating Techniques
One key recommendable eating technique is volumetrics. This requires having meals which are low-calorie and high fiber foods like non-starch vegetables. Prioritising the consumption of such foods before meals can help you feel full and therefore decrease stress eating. Examples of volumetric effective foods is salad greens, lean meats, dried fruits, grapefruit, tomatoes, beans or broccoli. Having a bowl of salad or even soup which is predominantly broth based is a substantial technique to keep you healthy and even curb the propensity to eat due to stress.
Monotony, boredom or depression are extremely prevalent in times like this. Due to the state of a lockdown and social distancing, it’s pertinent to assess your mental health and stay preoccupied to avoid monotony or dullness. It’s good to be attentive to yourself to figure out the kind of assistance or support you need. Using movies to deal with depression can compound it. Thus, seek out professional help to assist you figure out the underlying issues which make you stress eat. Sometimes it could be fear of life post COVID-19 or loneliness. There are support groups online that offer free counselling group sessions to help individuals and families cope in a season like this.
Staying focused on your goals
It’s pertinent to know that there will be life after the lockdown. Hence, setting time aside to set short- and long-term goals will empower you to be focused and resist negative urges. Staying mentally preoccupied is crucial. Focusing on your goals is a positive way to channel your energy. Taking record of inspiring and motivational quotes and wall hanging or sticking them around prominent places in your bedroom or living room is a great way to keep you inspired. It will further help you stick to a plan throughout the day. Daily reminders always help us when we veer off track.
Turn your stress into productivity
Research shows that stress hormones, in fact, induce growth and release chemicals into the body that rebuild cells. Similarly, it enhances immunity and synthesises proteins leaving the body healthier than it was. This effect has been termed by researchers as “physiological thriving”. Being able to look at stress as a means to enhance performance takes away the negative emotion which leads to emotional eating. In fact, evidence shows that people perform more effectively when they see their stress as a motivation to be productive and not a helpless and negative emotion.
So as the famous saying goes, “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” During a lockdown like this, you can turn all negative effects of uncertainty and being confined at home into an opportunity to be productive. It’s all about perspective.