Many of us make quick, unplanned decisions regarding our eating choices. We may even avoid conscious thoughts about what is healthy and nutritious, and instead have the following internal conversations:
“I go to the gym every day and I work out hard. I feel entitled to spurge a little afterwards. I don’t feel anything is wrong with that, even if it is a trip to a fast food restaurant. I am truly hungry at the time…but later I realize a well-chosen breakfast at home might have been a better choice. I act without thinking some days and always in a hurry.”
“My life is really stressful. I work hard all day. I have many difficult decisions to make at work right now. My family life is very busy, not a lot of time to think about what I am putting in my mouth. Some days it is, well, anything.”
Does this sound like you? These are common themes for active people living active lives. But, this is not about what is good to eat or even what is good for you; but rather what to do in physical or emotional situations, besides eat.
Research has shown that stress–of all sorts–can be dealt with if healthy alternatives are available and planned out in advance. Contemplating these alternatives may save us from unhealthy decisions that we will regret later.
Stress busting on a deadline can be made easier if choices are made in advance that work for you. Consider the following 8 alternatives to stress eating:
- Stop and breathe slowly. As you inhale, bring in a fresh, new perspective and let go of the stress as you exhale.
- Take a five minute break. Change your mental frame of mind by thinking about places and activities that you like.
- Listen to upbeat music. Stop what you are doing and really listen to your favorite song.
- Walk outside. Physically leave the stressful situation.
- Take a ride around the block. Take a ten minute ride to clear your head.
- Call someone. Talk to a friend or someone who offers you support.
- Make time for exercise. Working up a good sweat while exercising is probably the best way to burn off stress and gain a fresh perspective.
- Do stretches. Close the door, stretch slowly, and breathe deeply.
In the next month, we’re going to focus on information that will help you on the preparation side of making good choices, and what those choices can be.
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By Rita Larsen, RD, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Nutrition Educator & Diet Counselor