By Sandy Jolles, MS
You’ve just come home from a tough day at work, tired and stressed, and feel like the only thing that could make this day better is to get your hands on some greasy food because, hey, you deserve it right? After ordering takeout, you curl up on the couch with chocolate and chips to continue to ease your overwhelmed feelings. If this sounds like you, you are not alone!
Stress eating is a common practice, with over 38 percent of adults saying in a recent study that they have overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods in response to stress in the past month, and half of those individuals saying that it is a weekly behavior they participate in.
You may be a stress eater if you often find yourself eating when you aren’t hungry, eating more when you feel overwhelmed, or eating to make yourself feel better. If you look at the biology of how stress affects the body, it makes sense that you crave unhealthy foods. When you are stressed, the body jumps into a “fight or flight” mode and signals to the brain that it needs extra fuel to fight off whatever is causing the stress. But times have changed and our stress these days isn’t caused by a bear chasing after us. Instead, we are under loads of mental stress. When we are stressed, the body produces a stress hormone called cortisol, which makes you crave salty, fatty and sugary foods. Giving in and eating these foods creates a vicious cycle of stress and overwhelm.
The good news is, there are ways to combat stress eating through a variety of tactics. Let’s dive into a few of them.
Before you reach for a snack or meal, ask yourself how you are truly feeling. Are you feeling genuine hunger? Or are you bored, sad, or stressed? Paying attention to how you feel before you eat will help you to understand why you want to eat, and then you can decide if perhaps something else, like a walk, a glass of water, or a chat with a good friend would be more productive. Additionally, try eating without distractions. Watching TV or working while eating makes it harder to recognize when you’re full. Allow yourself to enjoy your food in the moment, focusing on the flavors, how much you are enjoying it, and how it is making you feel.
Eating a variety of foods is part of a healthy diet–and that can include indulgent foods that you enjoy like pizza, ice cream, and burgers. If you are following a diet where you constantly ignore your cravings for these items, it can lead to binges on these foods later on, especially when you are feeling stressed or anxious. Try to eat in moderation, listen to your cravings, and pay attention to the fullness and hunger cues your body sends to your brain. Once you start to tune in more, you will feel more in control of your eating habits.
3. Focus on eating stress-reducing foods
The B-complex vitamins include 8 vitamins, such as thiamin, B12, B6, folate, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and biotin. These B vitamins have been shown to help the body better manage energy levels, deal with stress and boost overall mood.* B vitamins are found in a variety of foods including, salmon, leafy greens, milk, beef, legumes, turkey, sunflower seeds, chicken, and more. If you feel like you are not getting enough of these food items, then a nutritional supplement can help. HealthyBest Calm includes six B vitamins, plus a blend of botanicals that support a positive mood and balance stress hormone levels.*
4. Get into a consistent exercise routine
Exercise has so many benefits for our physical and mental health, and one of them is reducing the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Additionally, exercise produces endorphins, which promotes relaxation. Getting into an exercise routine will give you a different outlet to reduce your stress, while helping you to maintain a healthy weight and naturally manage your daily stress levels.
5. Try out alternative options such as botanicals used in Chinese medicine
Magnolia (Magnolia officinalis) and Phellodendron (Phellodendron amurense) are two well-known botanicals for supporting a healthy stress response and helping manage anxious feelings.* In one clinical trial, daily supplementation of Magnolia and Phellodendron balanced cortisol levels and reduced perceived stress.* The combination also enhanced mood and benefited energy levels.* That’s why HealthyBest Calm includes Magnolia and Phellodendron – to promote a healthy cortisol level, enhance mood, and mitigate the effects of stress.* This combination helps the body better manage stress and the overeating that can result from it.*
Implementing the above tips into your daily life will help you manage your stress level and gain better control over your eating habits, even when you feel overwhelmed.* To get started on your new, healthy habits today, add HealthyBest Calm to your daily routine for an easy and doable step on your path to a calmer, more controlled lifestyle.