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:
- Turn to good friends or close family members who are willing to let you discuss upsetting or frustrating situations without judgement.
- 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.
- 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.
- Make sleep a priority. Everything seems catastrophic when we are sleep-deprived.
- 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.
- 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.
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As I have shared before, I’ve been a notorious poor sleeper since a was a little kid. My mom said I used to walk through the house as a small child in the middle of the night and scare the daylights out of her. I have worked diligently to improve my sleep habits partly because I have found out that more sleep means less cravings.
There have been numerous studies showing that our hunger (ghrelin) and satiety (leptin) hormones are altered from sleep deprivation and we tend to choose comfort foods when we are sleep deprived.
But the study that caught my attention was done at the University of Chicago Medicine. Sleep researchers, headed by Esra Tasali, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, found by getting 1.6 hours more sleep each night, there was a 14% decrease in overall appetite, but even more impressive was the 62% decrease in sweet and salty junk foods! Now that is worth extra sleep!
So what do you need to do to get the extra shut eye? First, make sleep a priority. Most of us do not. We are trying to fit so many things into our day. We just want to fold that last load of laundry, answer one more email, watch one more TV program “to relax”, etc. If we make sleep as important as other crucial things in our life, we can add 1.6 hours a night. Not only will you have less cravings, but extra energy. Win-win.
If getting to sleep or staying asleep is your issue, I have a sleep handout that I share with my clients that has not only helped me be a better sleeper, but helped several of my clients. If you’d like a copy, fill in the box below and I’d be happy to send it to you. Sweet dreams… [contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]
Through the holiday season, we tend to eat on the run because of our busy schedules and added holiday festivities. Instead of feeling dragged down, how would you like to feel full of energy?
Holiday shopping, dinners out, parties to attend and family members traveling can add up to eating less than healthy food every day. The result may be feeling sluggish and lethargic. How can you keep up with all of the festivities when all you want to do is climb into your nice comfy bed and sleep?
If you fuel your body most of the time with the food that gives you peak energy, you will be able to enjoy this holiday season without feeling like a party pooper. So now is the time to stock up your pantry and fridge with the following foods to keep you feeling energetic and ready to party.
- Instead of sweets and simple processed carbs, focus on whole grains like whole wheat, millet, quinoa and brown rice. Save the sweets for occasional treats and slowly savor them. Sweets and refined carbs spike your blood sugar and then cause it to plummet, leave you feeling wiped out. Complex carbs are absorbed more slowly, keeping your blood sugar stable and keeping your energy up.
- Protein found in lean cuts of beef, pork tenderloin, skinless chicken or turkey provide your body the essential amino acids and vitamin B12. Protein also helps transport nutrients in your body and maintain your electrolyte levels.
- Salmon and other fatty fish, nuts and leafy, dark green veggies provide omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3s improve blood flow in the brain.
- Water is absolutely essential. Even very mild dehydration slows down metabolism, causes headaches and zaps your energy. If you dislike plain water, add citrus slices or cucumber slices.
- Fiber foods like veggies, fruits and beans keep your blood sugar stable and your energy up. Pairing protein and fiber is the perfect union.
- Skipping meals or going too long between meals drops your blood sugar and energy. Eat small meals more frequently and energy-packed snacks in between meals like peanut butter on whole grain crackers, Greek yogurt and fruit or veggies and hummus.
- Eat dark chocolate. Yes, it’s healthy! especially 70% cocoa. It boosts your energy due to the caffeine and theobromine, another stimulant, but keep it to 1 oz. per day.
If you replace your on-the-run eating habits with these suggestions, you’ll boost your energy not only this holiday season but throughout the year. Enjoy each other’s company and savor each bite.
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