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How to avoid stress eating

How to avoid stress eating

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During quarantine I have found myself in the kitchen more than usual. With this new normal of being cooped up, being my children’s teacher, and having a stocked kitchen around the clock, it is easy to turn to food as a distraction.

It can be easy to make poor choices when our routines have been turned upside down. The following are suggestions to help you stay on track.

» Have healthy snacks on hand — If you feel the need to snack, turn to nutrient-dense, protein-rich snacks that help you feel full. Snacks such as nuts, hard-boiled eggs, sugar-free yogurt, and 60 percent (or higher) dark chocolate are healthier options that will satisfy your craving. Highly processed, sugar-loaded snacks will likely leave you searching for another snack in 30 minutes. Avoid stocking up on junk food. If it is in the home, it is impossible to avoid. Do not put yourself through the temptation of junk food. Out of sight, out of mind.

» Avoid eating out of boredom — I read that TV viewing is up over 40 percent during quarantine. I believe it. With more TV viewing, also comes mindlessly consuming snacks. Before you head to the kitchen for a snack, ask yourself if you are hungry. It is likely that a snack just helps pass the time. Instead of reaching for a snack out of boredom, find other ways to fill your time. Go for a walk, try online yoga, pick up that book you have been wanting to read, or plant a garden.

» Stay hydrated — Feeling hungry is often a sign of dehydration. Drink good ole’ H20 consistently throughout the day to ensure you are not misinterpreting hunger pangs for dehydration.

» Take time to cook — I often hear “I don’t have time to cook.” Now is the perfect time to try new healthy recipes. With more time at home for many of us, we can prepare home-cooked meals. This is one of the best things you can do for your health.

» Chew gum — It sounds simple, but reaching for gum reduces the urge to snack. A study in the journal, Appetite, showed that chewing gum for at least 45 minutes significantly suppressed hunger, appetite and cravings for snacks and promoted fullness.

» Brew a cup of hot tea — When I find myself wanting to reach for a snack, I opt for hot tea. Hot teas such as rooibos tea, chamomile and lavender are comforting teas that can help curb the temptation to snack. Drinking a cup of hot tea is a soothing ritual that can be more therapeutic than opting for a snack. And many teas, such as herbal ones, have an added bonus of medicinal and healing properties.

» Limit sugar — It may be tempting to choose high-sugar snacks, but excess sugar in the diet will have your blood-sugar levels on a roller coaster, leading to stronger sugar cravings. Sugar addiction is a strong food addiction.

Research shows sugar acts like opioids in the brain. You may have strong sugar cravings if you have a diet low in protein and healthy fats, consume a high-carbohydrate/sugar diet, or use artificial sweeteners often. The American Heart Association suggest consuming no more than approximately 25 grams of added sugar daily (or 6 teaspoons).

» Get help — Many dietitians are working virtually and can help create a plan to help you get on track to a healthy diet.

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