Do you ever find yourself reaching for comfort foods when you’re stressed?
It’s something a lot of people struggle with and there’s a lot that can be said, but here’s a few suggestions that might help.
What else makes you feel good?
When we are stressed and craving chocolate it can be hard to step back and think rationally about a better solution.
Our brains know we can get a quick boost of dopamine and sense of relief from our favourite food or drink and that’s all it’s interested in – feeling better ASAP.
But there are other things that make us feel better – hugs, a cuddle with your cat or dog, a cup of your favourite tea. Deep breathing. 5 minutes outside in the fresh air. Yoga. Meditation.
The key is having a plan for what else you can do when stress and cravings occur. It’s difficult to think clearly in the moment, but if you have already decided on a positive action you’re going to take, you’ll be much more likely to remember that and make a healthier choice.
Most cravings take around 20 minutes to pass. Could you busy yourself with a task for that time, or go out for a short walk? Could you call a friend, have a bath, or if it’s late, go snuggle up in bed and read a book?
Distraction can be a very simple and effective tool.
Tell yourself you can eat in 20 minutes if you still want to, then go do something else. Chances are the craving will have faded before the time is up. If it doesn’t, scroll down to my final point 🙂
Making sure your body has what it needs
If your eating is erratic due to being busy and not planning or creating time to eat healthy, balanced meals, your body and brain will start to crave energy and comfort in the form of sugar and fat.
Instead of focusing on restriction and eating less, see how much high quality nutrition you can pack into your day. Ideally most days –
- Protein in each meal.
- Lots of veggies.
- Some fruit.
- A serving or two of slow-digesting carbs (oats, beans, chick peas, potato, sweet potato, wholemeal bread, rice, lentils), and
- A serving or two of healthy fats (avocado, salmon, eggs, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds).
Eating at similar times each day can be very helpful to keep blood sugar levels stable and energy higher.
It also means you’ll be less likely to suffer cravings, as your brain knows that food is available when you need it. (if you often find yourself hungry due to lack of planning, you may suffer more cravings for high calorie foods as your brain doesn’t know when it’s next supply of energy will be delivered)
Going to bed and waking up at similar times (even at weekends), and getting enough overall sleep, can make a big difference to energy, blood sugar levels, cravings, and our response to stressful situations.
Mindfully eating what you crave
If you really want something, it’s important to remember that you always have the choice to eat it. If you do, enjoy every bite – notice the taste, texture, smell, and feelings it gives you.
Check in with what your gut is telling you as you eat it. When you get the sensation that you’re satisfied or losing enjoyment, that’s a great time to stop, knowing you can have more whenever you truly want it.
Allowing yourself that freedom, and paying attention to how it makes you feel, can play a huge part in long-term success.
Telling yourself you ‘can’t’ have something will NOT help. There’s nothing you ‘can’t’ have, and eating it doesn’t make you ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ either!
Choose NOT to eat it, or choose TO eat it – either way, be mindful, notice how you feel, own your choice, and move on guilt-free.
I hope this helps – any feedback or questions let me know 🙂