How to Cope with Stress Through Mindful Eating

SmartShape Weight Loss Centre

What comes to mind when you hear the word stress? 

Most people will think of particular circumstances or symptoms, for example: you sleep through your alarm clock, are late getting the kids to school, hit the highway just in time to get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic and then realize your gas light is on, so your heart starts to race and you break a sweat! 

It’s important to remember that stress can also be generated from positive moments and is especially prominent when we are unsure of how to handle said situation.  Since stress can impact mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, management is an absolute priority.  Therefore, it’s incredibly important to learn how to deal with stress in a positive and productive way!

Emotional and Stress Eating

 Many individuals turn to food for comfort, enjoyment or for celebration; therefore, it’s important to realize when you feel tense as a trigger and deprogram what might feel like an automatic response to reach for doughnuts, ice cream, and other high-fat or sugary foods, eat irregularly throughout the day and consume fewer fruit and vegetables. Not surprising, then, that stress eaters are more apt to gain weight.

Coping Strategies

1. Build a good nutritional foundation. Ensure to participate in the SWLC education sessions, interact with your SWLC care team on a regular basis and access the numerous resources that SWLC offers in order to prepare your home, mind and body in advance and better handle stress when it happens.

2. Be mindful. Don’t allow intakes of foods and beverages to sneak under your radar due to mindless eating such as walking past the candy dish and picking up a few to munch on or tasting food as it cooks. Mindful eating encourages you to be present during your intakes so that you select nutrient-dense, high quality items.

3. Enjoy complex carbs! Look for high fiber, minimally processed carbohydrates such as steel cut oats, bran buds, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, vegetables, legumes, fruits and non-fat milk to fuel your brain and body so that you are better equipped to handle stress.

4. Substitute for cravings. When you find yourself craving salty chips, opt for some pickles instead. If pickles don’t satisfy your palette, how about trying fresh fruits, or something crunchy like baby carrots. Skim milk low calorie pudding is also delish when craving for something smooth and creamy.

5. Have a backup plan. Stress induced eating can have a fast onset, so aim to always be prepared. Keep healthy snacks on hand at all times.

6. Reflect. Recognize what’s happening when stressful events  or thoughts ensue. Stop and evaluate. Ask questions like where’s your hunger rooted—mind or stomach? How hungry are you? When was the last time you ate or drank something?

Margeaux, RD

Source: Eating Healthfully During Stressful Times. Robin Warshaw & Louise Chang