If you're struggling with overeating, you're not alone. According to a Pew Survey, 6 in 10 Americans admit to eating more than they should. Pressures from work, family and finances tend to be some of the common triggers for overeating. For clarity [and my disclaimer], I'm not addressing binge eating or other medical conditions related to eating disorders. Always consult your health care provider for guidance about specific medical conditions. Here, I'm describing the occasional overindulging of food that can eventually lead to weight gain over an extended period of time.
Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about some simple, yet meaningful ways to reduce your chances of eating more than you'd like. We have a greater tendency to overeat when we're feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Although many Americans also overeat during the holidays, in this blog, we'll focus on eating more than we should when life's pressures feel overwhelming.
We often seek solace in eating certain foods because it temporarily makes us feel better. The problem with that is the feeling of comfort it brings is short-lived and after we've eaten that extra bowl of ice cream, we end up feeling worse than before. How do we bring a level of balance, so that we can still enjoy a delicious snack or a yummy dessert without packing on the pounds and feeling like we've failed in some way? Instead of self-medicating on foods that sabotage your health, let's talk about a few things you can do when you're feeling stressed.
First, replenishing your soul is a must. By "replenishing" I mean to spiritually nourish yourself by taking 10-15 minutes a day to get quite, to pray and to self-reflect. You'll be surprised how much better you feel after feeding your spirit with prayer and quietness. Oftentimes, we're overeating because we're trying to fill holes in our heart (figuratively speaking) that only God can fill. Take time out to get your quiet time, daily. Start with 5 minutes a day and increase it as you get more comfortable. It's time worth spent.
The next thing to do is move. Yes, exercise. We can't get away from the fact that our bodies are designed to be active throughout the day. When we move with increased intensity over time, our "feel good" hormones are released and our self-esteem improves...all in 20 minutes of exercise. Now, imagine if we engaged in some form of exercise, 4 times a week for 20-30 minutes per day. It would significantly lessen our need to self-medicate by overeating.
Finally, when we do want to snack on something yummy or enjoy a dessert, there are always better alternatives. We don't want to pile on the pounds, if that's a concern, and sabotage our efforts to live a healthy lifestyle. Here are some guilt-free options to choose from:
1. Fruits are always great to have on hand. They can easily satisfy your sweet tooth and help to make you feel fuller. If you're a diabetic, beware that fruit does have plenty of sugar, although it's natural. (Examples: blueberries, grapes, grapefruit, oranges, and strawberries)
2. Taking in some protein can be helpful in satisfying your palate. Make sure it's baked or grilled. You can also purchase ready-to-eat packets of tuna that come in various flavors. (Examples: salmon, chicken, turkey, and tuna)
3. Popcorn and various types of rice cakes come in an assortment of flavors. From white cheddar to caramel, you can never go wrong with these snacks. Rice cakes are a personal favorite of mine. My pantry stays stocked with these tasty goodies.
4. For my ice cream lovers, there are many alternatives to choose from. Frozen yogurt and sorbets are always a better choice, but still should be eaten in moderation. Also, there's a new ice cream on the market called Halo Top. Each pint is (drum roll, please), less than 300 calories (yes, for the entire pint). It's low in fat and sugar with a nice amount of protein. The reviews have been really positive. It prices around $6, but hey for 240-280 calories per pint of ice cream, you can't beat it. Give it a try.
Try a variety of snacks and foods to see what works for you. Keep in mind there are always healthier options when you're feeling the need to snack and satisfy a sweet tooth. The key is to be intentional and to plan ahead. Be sure to implement practices of spiritual nourishment and exercise that will actually strengthen you in coping with the stresses of life.
Alice is an Educator, Coach, Speaker and Author. She loves teaching women how to create peaceful lives through purpose & productivity.