Almost everyone has moments when they overeat, especially when they are stressed. People often turn to treats for comfort, and then wind up feeling guilty (on top of being stressed) about what they just ate. Instead of piling on the guilt from overindulging in junk food, use these healthier strategies to reduce your stress.
1. Instead of losing yourself in the fridge or the pantry, talk about what's stressing you.
Just naming it or talking about it can help you get in a proactive state to do something about your stress level. Is there some action you can take to minimize your stress? Everyone feels better in action than when brooding. While you can't completely rid your life of the causes of stress, you can take the time to ask yourself how you can make things better. You can get better at controlling how you think, so practice choosing the positive.
2. Do one thing you love every day.
Don't let too many days go by without doing something you love. In fact, if you can, try to get at least one thing on your daily calendar that you love. Call a friend. Take a stroll. Treat yourself to something you enjoy that doesn’t involve food. Take a bubble bath. Get a full night’s sleep. Sip your favorite kind of coffee.
3. Choose healthy foods first.
When you're stressed out, you are producing higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can make you crave sweets and salty foods. Instead of trying to fight it, select a sweet or salty food that’s healthy for you. Before you reach for the donuts, see if you can satiate your craving with a healthy choice. Make yourself a smoothie with your favorite fruit, nonfat milk and yogurt. Not only will a smoothie satisfy your sweet craving, it will also suppress your appetite so you are less likely to consume several donuts in one sitting. If it’s salt you crave, eat some pickles, almonds or walnuts.
4. Don’t put foods you have a difficult time avoiding in your house.
Don't create your own temptation challenge in your own home. Be kinder to yourself by making it easier for you to stick to healthier items. Make it easy to choose healthy by keep healthy snacks on hand so you can easily turn to healthy options first.
5. Have a planned indulgence once a week.
Choose one meal or snack where you eat what you want, and get back to healthier eating for your next meal. It's called planned indulgence and it's your permission slip to indulge and enjoy--a guilt-free zone you schedule--so you are in control. Knowing you can indulge once a week can make it easier the rest of the week to stay on track--even when you are stressed.
6. Empower yourself with exercise.
You've probably heard it a zillion times, but exercise is one of the best ways to elevate your mood and alleviate stress. Ramp up your intensity and really go for a sweat. Aim for those endorphins and watch what they do to reduce your stress, boost your mood and give you some mental clarity. Consider some group exercise so you can empower yourself with the energy of others as well!
7. Take a minute to breathe.
Whether it's meditation or yoga or simply sitting in a comfy chair and clearing your mind, focus on your breathing and unplug from technology and the daily dashing about. Choosing quiet can help you recharge and disconnect from stress.
With a little creativity and planning, you can step off the cycle of stress, overindulging and guilt. The new, chill you will thank you.
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