Food Fight:Emotional Eating
March is Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “Take the Fight out of Food” and find joy in eating again. One of the most common food fight Canadians face is emotional or stress eating and here is a 3-step approach to help you “take the fight out of food”: Spot the problem, get the facts and seek support.
Spot the Problem: What is causing your fight with food? When you are stressed at work or frustrated at home you turn to food for comfort and this makes you feel worse. You want to learn better eating habits.
Get the Facts: Use facts from credible sources to decide what needs to be done to solve the problem.
You learn that craving food when you feel stressed instead of hungry is called emotional eating.
Emotional eating can lead to eating too much without realizing it, craving foods high in calories, sugar and fat and feeling more stress or anxiety after eating it.
Mindful eating is one way to manage emotional eating habits:
Mindful eating involves paying attention to eating using all senses: really seeing, tasting, hearing, smelling and feeling food. Mindful eating can help you become more aware of the reasons why you are eating and help you to try to eat only when you are actually hungry and stop when you are full. To help you become more mindful; turn off devices, slow down and taste your food, the next day try to remember what you ate and how it tasted.
You can also try to find food-free ways to manage stress:
Be active: Exercise can improve your mood and lower your feelings of stress. Aim for 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of physical activity a week. Garden, go for a brisk walk, dance, do some yoga.
Get enough sleep: Sleep helps you to start off the day refreshed. People need different amounts of sleep, but most adults need about 7 to 8 hours a night.
Cut down on caffeine: Caffeine may disrupt sleep and make stress worse. Caffeine is found a variety of foods and drinks such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, and cola soft drinks.
Limit alcohol: Alcohol is sometimes used to improve people’s mood, but alcohol can make you feel worse afterwards.
Try calming activities. Activities such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness and deep breathing can all help to calm your mind. Try activities that will work for you.
Take a time out: Do something you enjoy that takes your mind off your problems. Read a book. Have a chat with a trusted friend or family member. Maybe they can help you with the activities and responsibilities that are causing stress in your life.
Seek support: Put the plan into action with support from a dietitian, family member or friend.
A dietitian can help coach you through mindful eating strategies, offer tips for managing stress and food cravings. Find a dietitian at www.dietitians.ca/find
Your dietitian suggests these tips to help manage cravings:
Make sure to eat enough nutritious food during the day. Don’t skip meals or let yourself get too hungry.
Keep healthy snacks on hand. If you are hungry, enjoy a small snack such as fruit and a handful of almonds, cut-up veggies and hummus or whole grain crackers and lower fat cheese.
Eat a small amount of what you crave and enjoy it. This may satisfy your craving so you won’t overeat. Buy an individual portion if possible. For example, buy one really good chocolate chip cookie instead of a bag of cookies.
You can find new recipes using the Cookspriation app to make more nutritious comfort foods to snack on. Other recipes are available at www.NutritionMonth2017.ca .