Are you eating more than usual since the pandemic began? Or turning to comfort food instead of your usual healthy food choices? If so, you’re not alone with emotional eating.
Finding consolation in food during difficult times is how some people try to cope with stress and other emotions. Studies estimate that 40% of people increase their caloric intake when experiencing stressful situations. And we're dealing with that right now. Don't let pandemic-induced emotions sabotage your diet.
Don't Let Emotional Eating Win
Enjoying ice cream or buttery popcorn on occasion won’t have a huge effect on your health. But frequent emotional eating can lead to health issues, including obesity and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Here are four ways to help get your pandemic-induced eating habits under control.
Avoid Distracted Eating
Whether you munch while watching TV, texting with a friend, or a big work assignment, mindless eating can sabotage your healthy diet. People who eat while distracted tend to consume 10% more calories than those mindfully eating. So turn off the TV, put down your phone and enjoy your meals at the dinner table with limited distractions.
Move Temptation Out of Sight
You may insist that you won’t eat the whole box of cookies you impulse-bought at the grocery store. But if they’re in plain sight when hunger strikes, temptation may make it too difficult.
While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying an occasional splurge, keeping indulgences out of sight may help you avoid overeating. Keep a bowl filled with fruit or other healthy snacks on your kitchen table or countertop instead.
Trying to Manage Your Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal response to stress, but if you're struggling to find a balance, you may need more help.
Pay Attention to Triggers
Do you grab a cookie when you get bored? Are you reaching for the chips when you feel sad or stressed? Knowing which emotions trigger overeating can help you be more proactive in managing your eating habits.
Finding another way to cope with your emotions that doesn’t involve food may help. Going for a walk or calling a friend is a healthier solution than a bowl of ice cream when you’re down.
Hormones that play a role in feeling satisfied when you eat can be negatively affected if you don’t get enough sleep.
Therefore, if you aren’t getting in some quality zzz’s, you may feel the need to eat when your body doesn’t truly need the additional nutrition. Practicing good sleep habits at night may help you make better food choices during the day.
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