7 Tips to Avoid Anxiety Eating
Mainting a healthy body weight during COVID-19 social distancing
While my neighbours are posting pictures of the newly baked healthy Keto-friendly desserts or photos of their brand-new yoga routine, I am busy, anxiety-eating raspberry jam...straight out of the jar...with a ladle. Well done, me!
Judging by some of the comments online on my social media feed, I am not alone.
We humans like to eat our feelings. When things get disrupted, our natural inclination is to self-soothe with great gobs of chocolat-sugar-salt-potato chips-bread or, in my case, raspberry jam. It doesn’t take long for unhealthy extra pounds to creep up. And, with many of us social distancing and working from home, the accessibility to the fridge is all too easy and a short commute...and one that is now socially acceptable to do while still in our pajamas.
So how do we deal? How can we keep our craving in check?
Here are 7 suggestions of ways to help curb stress-eating:
1. Don’t keep junk food in your pantry.
This actually works for me, probably because I am too lazy to make treats from scratch. If I don’t buy it, if I don’t bring it home, I can’t eat it. If you are able to show some restraint at the grocery store, you won’t need willpower once you are back at home!
2. If anxiety or boredom is triggering your comfort eating, try to deal with the root of the problem.
For example, if you find yourself walking to the fridge because you are bored, think of other ways to fix your boredom. You can go strike something off your to-do list, dig out that book you have always wanted to read, call a friend or sign up for an online course instead. The same can go for anxiety. If you are opening the cupboards to avoid thinking about your anxiety, allow yourself to sit with the uncomfortable feeling for second. Instead of eating to combat the emotion, try other grounding techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, talking with a friend or journaling.
3. Drink something instead.
Sometimes the act of preparing something to drink, then drinking it, can be an effective way to defer the desire to eat. Water is great, of course. However, you can also make hot beverage. Just don’t add a lot of empty calories to your drinks like sugar—I enjoy coffee without sugar, so that is my go-to. Pop, juices and fruity drinks are often packed with sugar, so best to avoid them altogether.
4. Have a snack, just make it a healthy one.
If you absolutely need the ritual of snacking, consider preparing serving-sized healthy snacks. Crunchy veggies or cherry tomatoes work well.
5. Find a buddy to make you accountable.
This is big for me. Personally, I need the herd mentality to keep me on track. Nothing like positive peer pressure to encourage me. This works really well if you are on the competitive side. Find someone with whom you can check in daily (or hourly in my case) to report the victories to!
6. Measure your success.
This doesn’t have to be the scale. Obsessing about weight can lead to a negative self-image, and that isn’t healthy. Other ways of measuring your success can be as simple as tracking how many hours you go without eating something sugary. Then you can extend that to days or weeks as your resolve increases!
7. Reward Yourself (with something other than food).
Humans are hardwired for validation! Set up a system where you can celebrate your victories no matter how small. Some great examples are ordering a new item of clothing, signing up for an online course, or simply sharing your success on social media.
And finally, a word to the wise: be kind to yourself. It is easy to fall off the wagon and pack it all in. Giving up is an attractive option. So, when there is a moment of weakness, roll with it. Know that this moment is just one battle and not the whole war. Remember, it is what you do over the long run that counts. Don’t beat yourself up and get right back onto your new routine.
And, for the love of Pete, hide the raspberry jam.