10 Tips to Reduce Stress-Related Cravings

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food-cravingsSo many of us eat unhealthy foods when we feel stressed. With food available everywhere, it’s easy to see how easily food can be being used as an unhealthy form of stress relief. Unfortunately, using food to relieve our stress is a temporary solution at best, with the long-term consequences ranging from obesity to poor health, to a lack of confidence, poor self-esteem and more. Want some healthy alternatives to dealing with stress when it hits? Here are 10 tips to reduce stress-related cravings and binge eating.

1. Watch funny comedies or videos!

Did you know that on average, a child laughs 300 times a day and an adult only laugh 17 times a day? There are studies that prove multiple health benefits that laughter has on health. Laughter decreases the amount of stress-related hormones in our brain!

2. Drink water to curb appetite.

Water helps to keep you hydrated and energized.
A study showed that people who drank about 2 cups of water before a meal ate about 75 – 90 calories less than people who did not drink water before a meal. (2)
Find ways to flavor the water with all-natural ingredients such as lemon, lime, mint and a bit of stevia for sweetness.

3. Take a brisk walk when sugar cravings hit!

Research finds that a 15-minute walk when a sugar (chocolate) craving kicks in actually reduces the craving. The boost of endorphins and feeling that you’re doing something proactive for your health may be enough for you to crave the exercise vs. the sugar…eventually! (3)
Sugar craving is heavily associated with brain chemical activity. Research has even shown that sugar addiction is similar to any other substance or drug addiction.  Exercising can put those chemicals in balance so that the craving decreases.

4. Take a hot aromatic bath or shower.

It only takes less than 10 minutes to curb a craving! Yale University conducted research that found that being surrounded by a warm environment, like a shower, actually triggers brain and body responses that decrease stress and promote healthier emotions.
In Russia, busy workers even go to hot saunas called “banyas” to de-stress. (4)

5. Cook your own meals.

Taking the time to prepare a healthy meal for yourself typically means you’ll be taking in more whole, real and nutrient-dense foods if you plan carefully. Enjoy the scents and flavors in what you’re cooking along with the experience of taking measures towards your own self-care. While eating, appreciate the effort you put into your creation and enjoy it while mindfully eating your delicious food. By appreciating the value of food and your own creation, your cravings and appetite can decrease.

6. Call a friend or relative.

Find a healthy and engaging distraction! Call a friend or family member to create a sense of community and connectedness. Instead of snacking, steer your attention towards people and relationships you love.
Harvard University studied the positive effects of healthy relationships and mental health. The study found that strong connections and relationships decrease risk of dementia and increase body and mental health. (5)

7. Tea time.

Drinking warm tea can help you slow down your busy day. Studies show that the compounds found in tea can actually promote a faster metabolism, increase calories burned, and increase fat burned as well. Research studies observed that tea drinkers have lower body mass indexes, weights, and greater weight loss. (6)
Try drinking a cup of green tea or any other tea you enjoy. Just be mindful of caffeinated tea, especially later in the day, which may prevent restful sleep.

8. Read a book, blog, or article.

Just a few minutes of directing your attention away from food can curb your appetite. Try reading a chapter in a book, reading a favorite blog, or an article. It’s a great practice to learn something new every day, so this strategy can serve many purposes.

9. Do something incompatible to eating.

Clean a drawer, brush your dog’s fur, put on a coat of clear nail polish, put some creamy scented lotion on your hands, knit, write, or put on a strip of tooth whitener! Doing things that make it difficult to binge gives you an opportunity to regain your focus and reconsider if the food is worth eating after all.

10. Sleep.

So often we binge because we’re looking for quick energy. That quick energy is often found in highly sugared foods. Sure they give you that initial rush of energy, but it’s always followed by that inevitable energy crash. If you’re tired, feed the REAL need and catch a nap or get to bed earlier instead.

How do YOU prevent stress related binge eating? We’d love to know, comment and share!

References:

  1. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/laughing-makes-brain-work-study-finds/story?id=23393053
  2. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100823142929.htm
  3. http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/family-nutrition/sugar/9-ways-curb-your-sugar-cravings
  4. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20645790_3,00.html#
  5. http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/the-health-benefits-of-strong-relationships
  6. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/268509.php

 Photo from here, with thanks.

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January 2015
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