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Do You Eat More When Stressed?

Do You Eat More When Stressed?

Stress may make you seek comfort in food. However, try to channel your stress into other activities that don't affect your weight.

Women and stress management

We all experience some level of stress whether it's due to an overload at work, or financial or personal problems. Unfortunately, many people seek refuge in food, especially women. This was proven in a British study that researched the relationship between stress and food.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, in this study women suffered more stress because of a lack of work. Stress might also be brought on by arguments with colleagues or friends, tight deadlines or having to appear in public. In all these cases, mental stress was main factor that led to eating.

Small doses of stress are good. Stress is the body's normal reaction to danger and therefore helps you cope with emergencies. However, stress becomes a problem when it is a permanent part of your life. It will then affect your body and cause health problems.

In general, stressed women are more likely than men to turn to bad health habits such as smoking, drinking and eating foods high in fat and sugar. The problem is that by eating foods that are high in calories, your eating habits will be reflected in the numbers on the scale.

Emotional eaters

Women under any kind of stress, eat more between meals than they do during meals, thus limiting their intake of healthy foods such as vegetables. This type of behavior is known as emotional eating.

Emotional eaters consciously and unconsciously eat when they have problems because food offers them pleasure and comfort. This is how emotions can get in the way of weight-loss efforts.

Addictive foods

Some foods are considered addictive because they make you feel like eating non-stop, as is the case with chocolate. It lifts your spirits and it gives you satisfaction. The pleasure you experience from eating these foods makes you forget your problems. However, the pleasure goes away when you stop eating and fall into depression again, and then eat more. Thus, you get caught in a vicious cycle.

What can you do to break the cycle?

Below, we give you some tips to help you discover if you're eating out of hunger or stress.

1. Stop and think for a couple of secondswhen hunger strikes. When was the last time you ate? If the answer is less than two hours ago, most likely you're not hungry. Entertain yourself with something else that doesn't have anything to do with eating, and wait until the urge passes.

2. Keep a diary and a logof all the food you eat for about three days. Be sure to include at least one Saturday or Sunday. Next to each food, write down any positive or negative feelings you had when you ate them. Consider whether you were in a good mood, anxious, angry, etc. This way you can monitor and evaluate your eating behavior and learn to avoid unhealthy food.

3. If you feel like eating a chocolate bar, try to distract yourself. Go for a walk, listen to music, read a good book or call a friend on the phone.

4. If you're stressed you're likely to end up in front of the refrigerator. Because of this you should fill it with healthy foods such as fruit or yogurt.Don't go to the supermarket when you are hungry. Eat something at home and wait until you are sure that your feelings will not affect your choices.

5. If you are hungry between meals, eat healthy snacks that are low in fat and calories.Choose fresh fruit, low-fat popcorn or a low-fat version of your favorite snack.

6. Healthy meals are balanced meals.Eat the recommended serving sizes in your diet plan. If you don't get enough calories, you will probably be hungry.

7. Always include vegetables, fresh fruits and whole-wheat grains,a serving of milk or dairy product, and a source of protein.

8. Exercise frequently,however, allow yourself time to get enough rest. Exercise in the outdoors, such a going for a walk in a nice park. This will help you burn calories while it gives you the opportunity to meditate and relax.

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