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Be mindful: real hunger or stress-induced appetite?


Have you ever stopped before eating to ask yourself " I am really hungry?" Or do I feel stressed or anxious?

This is a toughie for women who tend to eat to deal with stress. Food is comfort when stress takes hold, and the urge to eat feels a lot like real hunger. When you wander into the kitchen or place an order at a restaurant, ask yourself if you're truly hungry, or if you're eating for other reasons.
If you are truly hungry, it will be easier to eat healthy foods. If you're stressed, you may crave fatty and/or sweet foods.
If you keep in mind that food will NOT solve the stress problems (and may create more of them) in your life, and learn other coping mechanisms for stress, you will be far better off.

Here are some effective strategies to try: 

Find non-food soothers.

If you crave junk in stressful situations, find ways to soothe yourself that don’t involve food.  Keep a brief food and feelings diary. Write down what you eat and when plus how you felt, in terms of the specific stressful feeling such as pressure, anger, disappointment or frustration. This will help you identify the exact type of stress or pressure that leads you to overeat. 

Look for new ways to reduce the amount of stress in your life.

Find other ways to soothe stressful feelings such as talking things out with a friend or partner, writing in a journal, having a warm bath or doing a regular yoga or meditation class. What are your specific stress reduction needs? Only you can answer this question. Your stress management plan depends on your answer.

Add some play time.

For once in your adult life, make having fun a priority! Many of superwomen forget just how relaxing a few hours of fun or a good laugh can be. Taking time to relax and do something for yourself is the best way to beat stress. So no matter how hectic your life gets, always make time to do something you enjoy that distracts you from your everyday life and endless duties. This time to unwind will help you gain perspective and make you less likely to turn to food for comfort. So today I am writing out a virtual prescription for you: “Play!”

Breathe.

Three to four deep mindful breaths through your nose can slow your heart rate and calm the whole body down. Find time throughout your day to create a mindful pause: stop and take three mindful breathe, especially when you feel stressed.  

Don't lose sleep

…over your weight problems or your stress. When you don't get enough rest, cortisol levels rise, making you feel hungry and less satisfied with the food you do eat.  

Get regular exercise

Studies show that just ten minutes of physical activity daily – especially if it’s outside – can help reduce levels of cortisol in the blood stream. Physical activity clears your mind and keeps your stress and appetite under control. Next time you fancy a bag of crisps in a crisis, try a quick walk. It might not solve the problem but it could help you cope.   

Devote time to relaxation.

Because it works much like exercise to produce brain chemicals that counter the effects of stress, find the activities that make you feel relaxed and calm. There is no single relaxation technique that is the best for everyone. Try them and then use the ones that you have found to be right for you. When you have find the ones that work for you, stick with them - practice them even when you are not stressed until you develop a habit. There are very few chances that without a practice and without a habit you will be able to use them in stressful situation.

And don't overlook the relaxing power of curling up on a sofa with a good book or magazine, or watching your favorite movie on Netflix.     
                                                                             
There many more strategies to stop stress overeating although this all boils down to - if your current eating habits are not leading toward your wellness goals, lets talk. Learn more about how I can help you here.  

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