Healthy Eating and Stress Management
Stan Pelham: Hello and welcome to today’s webinar titled “Healthy Eating and Stress Management.” My name is Stan Pelham and I’ll be the host for today’s webinar.
Our presenter today is Kris Hooks. Kris Hooks is a licensed professional counselor, a marriage and family therapist, a certified employee assistance professional, and a certified wellness coach. Kris has provided and managed employees in the behavioral health field for 30 years. She has written and facilitated seminars and webinars for hundreds of organizations and many Fortune 500 companies.
We are pleased to have Kris with us today, and without further delay, Kris, I will turn things over to Kris.
Kris Hooks: Oh, Stan, thank you so much! I am so glad to be with you that you have taken time out of your day to focus on two areas, healthy eating and managing stress is really noteworthy. This time a year, we’re kicking off the holiday season, some people say that starts when the Halloween candy hits the aisles and last through at least New Year. Sometimes you can stretch that on out to chocolate bunnies.
This time a year is not easy even if you are doing pretty well with managing stress and eating healthier. So it’s a great time to focus on both.
Did you know the average person gains somewhere around five pounds during the holiday season? And I know none of us want to be in that group.
Stan, didn’t mention this credential, but I am not a person who has had weight struggles in my life. I wish I had a dollar for every pound I went up and down throughout my life. Twenty-five years ago finally, I kind of got it together, got focused, changed my attitude about eating, changed my eating habits, and my lifestyle got more active and stopped thinking about it like a diet. And I have successfully kept off 50 pounds for now 26 years.
So that is—that’s required ongoing effort, it has gotten easier that I think it’s a good credential for me in talking about this. I have certainly helped many people. I worked for 14 years in a hospital setting, medical weight management as a behavioral counselor, helping people change their relationship with food and manage their lives in ways that would better their health. And as he mentioned, I am a health and wellness coach.
OK, all of that. Let me give you just a question to think about before we dive into learning objectives, so when you are stressed, what kind of food do you like think of reaching for? And I know I have talked to hundreds of people about this over the years and some of the top ones I heard are chocolate or cheeseburger or French fries or pizza or chips or candy or cookies, ice cream, all of those are typical comfort foods. They are high in fat and that is saturated fat, coupled with salt or coupled with sugar.
Those are common comfort foods, we are going to talk about why we crave those and we do not crave things like, I am so stressed out, I just need to have some kale or give me a veggie tray. I had a daughter who is a dietitian and I joke with her and say, listen girl, I have never had anybody tell me I am so stressed, I need to eat more kale. I know I will feel better.
As stressed spelled backwards, if you’ve never done this before you can jot it down that would be S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D, spell it backwards, D-E-S-S-E-R-T-S, lo and behold it’s desserts. All right, all of that is just to kind of get you going, thinking about stress, food cravings, what might be some of your triggers and your issues.
So in today’s webinar, we are going to identify the reasons that people overeat and as we go through, I want you to be thinking specifically about yourself, want this to be practical, very real for you.
We are going to describe an unhealthy eating stress cycle and inside about how that cycle gets established and in what perpetuates it, and then how can we interrupt it. You know, what’s the difference between emotional eating and eating when we are physically hungry? It’s important to be able to distinguish different kinds of hunger and we will talk about what makes that really challenging in the world we live in.
We are going to go through eight specific strategies to help you eat healthier and manage stress more effectively. All right, with that, let’s think for a minute about why people overeat?
People, when you think about emotions and what emotions might cause you to reach for food. Although the first bullet on here is Negative emotions, people eat when they are happy too. They will eat to celebrate, like it’s somebody’s birthday or it’s a holiday or it’s Friday, and we need to enhance those feelings of joy, for sure.
Negative emotions, trust me, there’s not a negative emotion that you can name that doesn’t trigger someone to want to overeat; that can be anxiety or fear or sadness, depression or grief. People will eat when they’re lonely or bored or they feel irritable or angry or they are faced with conflict and they don’t want to deal with it and they just like to numb it. Yeah, all of that can cause stress-related eating.
OK, holidays, celebrations I mentioned. Self-medicating, did you know that food actually changes our body chemistry? Eating comfort food, the ones I named earlier, release serotonin, feel-good chemicals inside of us and those feel-good chemicals can counter the cortisol, the fight-or-flight stress hormone chemicals that are dumped when we feel stressed. It’s no wonder we can indebt in a negative cycle with food.
And the other reason that people will overeat is just based on their environment. Think about walking in, do any of us walk into the movies anymore. I don’t know, but if we do, you can smell popcorn before you even get your ticket. Yeah, that can trigger a desire to eat popcorn. You might look at the time and go, hey, it’s lunchtime or it’s dinner time that can trigger us to want to eat.
If we see somebody else eating, we might like, hey, that looks good, what about the environment of an all-you-can-eat buffet like, hey, I am going to get my money’s worth here, let me just dive right in.
What about misleading—I am going to give you some insight here, Brian Wansink is over the food lab at Cornell and he and his team have studied people’s eating behavior for years. There is very interesting findings in his research. When a food label says that something is low-fat, fat free, reduced fat, low-calorie, do you know that we will eat more of it when it is labeled that way?
Likewise on a package, take a package, a box of Cheez-Its, for example, if there are more Cheez-Its on the box in the picture, on the package, we will eat more Cheez-It out of the box. Isn’t that crazy? They have done lots of research about people and their behavior around M&Ms. The more colors there are with M&Ms, the more M&Ms a person will eat. Wow! Things you might never have known.
So, marketing companies know all this and that is why there are so many different colors of M&Ms and that’s why there are sometimes so many pictures of whatever is in the box, on the box. Again, and that’s why marketing things like low-calorie, calorie free, fat free, reduced fat, all that causes us to eat more of it; so just be aware.
How about not wanting to waste food? I know that I grew up in a family, like you know what, you cannot leave food on your plate because there are children starving and you could name the place where they are starting. That can make it hard when you’ve been programmed that way. The goal would be not to dip so much food on your plate that there is so much left over, when it’s a family of four, we shouldn’t cook for a family of 10 unless you really want to have leftovers later, which can be a timesaver.
But yeah, not wanting to waste food or you’re cleaning up and there is food on someone’s else plate and you are like, well, I don’t want to let that go to waste, so what do we do, we stuff it in our piehole and then we have the consequences of too many calories inside our bodies.
And we hear about all or nothing thinking, which is truly the default mode I think of human beings. This is why people are either on a diet, all in, eating very carefully with choices, possibly combining some exercise with that, maybe even being very restrictive in their food intake or it’s a free-for-all. It’s Thursday, a person is off track, they are like, well, I got a lot going on, on this weekend, I will think about this on Monday.
And then Monday comes, you are like, well, it’s getting really close to Thanksgiving. I think I will just wait. I will think about this December 1st. Oh no, there is a lot of other holidays in December, I will think about this in January. This kind of all or nothing mindset promotes that average weight gain that I talked about.
Think about how you grew up, what were traditions like in your family? Are there certain holiday foods that maybe your primary caretakers, grandparents, parents made and now for you holidays include that kind of cooking? Yeah, that’s not usually low-calorie, healthy food; that’s usually things that are, like we talked about earlier, high fat.
What’s your culture like? Is there promotion of healthy eating? What’s your lifestyle like? I would put that up as another bullet for reasons that people overeat.
Or eating on the run, you have a lot that you are juggling outside of work and it’s really hard to plan healthy food, to get to the grocery store, to take the time you need, to cook it, to have it prepared.
Another reason for overheating, maybe you just—kind of a denial factor, you really don’t want to track what you eat, you don’t want to measure it. Like if nobody saw me eat it, it doesn’t count, or if it was broken or a crumb, I am evening it up. I mean I know all this. All of that can create additional problems.
All right, let’s look at this unhealthy cycle I mentioned earlier. So how does this get going? So what we know about stress in our lives. Let me give you a little bit of background before I dive into the cycle.
According to the American Journal of Health Promotion, lifestyle factors, like how we manage stress, play a specific role in how we do with our mortality, with morbidity, with healthcare utilization and cost.
In other words, if a person is working on maintaining a healthy lifestyle; eating healthier, moving around more, getting adequate sleep and managing stress, they are going to have better overall wellness.
According to the American Psychological Association, how you handle stress, that influences your heart, your cardiovascular system and maybe even more of a predictor of your heart health than smoking, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. That’s kind of scary, kind of really points to we really need to manage stress and think about what we do when we are stressed out.
All right, so let’s look at this stress cycle. So a person feels stressed, that dump of cortisol stress hormone happens, this is like the fight or flight thing, and it can be a real or a perceived threat. It can be we are stressed out about work, we are stressed out about things outside of work. It doesn’t have to be a saber-toothed tiger growling at us. That chronic dump of stress hormone really can increase cortisol, which in turn can ramp up our appetite and make us feel hungry. That can result in overeating.
We can also reach for comfort food when that happens, as I mentioned, because serotonin levels are increased with high fat, saturated fat, salt, sugar kinds of food. That can create issues for us big time.
When the dump happens with stress and we reach for less healthy food, temporarily we may feel better, but then generally there is a drop in blood sugar. We may reach for more of that junkie or less healthy food. We will get in the cycle with it and then when we stop and think about really what am I doing here, we can have regret and guilt, and sometimes that can actually trigger more of the unhealthy eating.
Oh my goodness, did you hear yourself in that cycle? If you are breathing, I promise you at some point you have been there.
OK, let’s now distinguish physical hunger from emotional hunger. When a person feels physically hungry, there are some distinguishing factors with physical hunger. Let’s say you had lunch, it’s a couple of hours after lunch, depending on what you ate you may start to feel a little bit hungry. At that point the hunger is coming on gradually. You might be like I could eat that food that I brought from home, maybe that Healthy Trail Mix or Greek Yogurt, something good for me, that’s kind of based in the stomach. It involves deliberate food choices. You are able to think, what’s my best afternoon snack here?
And if you eat slowly enough and mindfully enough with physical hunger, you are able to register, and we are going to look at a Hunger-Fullness Rating Scale coming up, you are able to register fullness and you don’t feel guilty or badly or have regret or that whole negative cycle we just talked about.
Now, as humans this is our target and if we could do all of our eating based on physical hunger and truly use the cues and the system I just talked about, we wouldn’t have issues with weight, and we probably wouldn’t even be focused on this webinar right now.
All right, so what happens with emotional hunger? It’s like a couple of hours after lunch. Let’s say you are at work and somebody is popping popcorn in the microwave or hey, somebody had a meeting and they had a bunch of leftover food and it’s like ooh, there is a bunch of good stuff just hanging out free in the break room and you kind of smell it or you see it and it comes on suddenly and you are like hey, I really want, and you can fill in the blank with it, or if there is no food in the break room and all of a sudden you just start thinking about the vending machine and your favorite kind of candy.
But let’s say you picked up some cheap Halloween candy on November 1st and you are like, oh yeah, I just want to have my Kit Kat or whatever it is. And I also am really, really stressed out and I need to be working on this project that has a deadline before I leave work today, but I am just thinking if I can just get some of this, whatever it is kind of food inside me, I will be able to feel better. Do you see how emotionally based that is?
And when we get around the kind of food that we are craving, we don’t really want to tune in to how much we are eating when it’s emotionally-based hunger and we will just munch on it mindlessly and continue to eat. And we don’t really stop. We are not even tuned into how much have I eaten or how full am I. And a lot of times with junkie food we don’t really register fullness in the same way that we do when we are eating more whole grain, higher protein, good for us kind of calories and that whole cycle that I talked about, guilt, regret, powerlessness, shame, maybe embarrassment, and we just get all tangled up. You kind of see the differences here.
Again, there are some tips for how to figure out am I eating based on being physically hungry or is this an emotional trigger? That’s going to be woven into our tools that we are now going to talk about.
So we are going to go through eight tips for how to work on healthier eating and managing stress in healthier ways also. Let me give you all eight of them just so you know where we are going.
Number one, we are going to talk about thinking before you bite.
Number two, we are going to talk about following dietary recommendations.
Three is going to be based on a hunger-fullness rating scale.
Four is like don’t get too tired or too thirsty and I will give you the preview. If we are sleep deprived or dehydrated, our bodies read that as physical hunger. How scary is that!
The fifth one is going to be about thinking proactively and setting yourself up for success, maybe having some realistic expectations, absolutely critical for this holiday season.
Number six is going to be how to use tools where you track and have accountability.
Number seven is going to be about managing stress.
And then number eight is going to be about mindfulness.
All right, let’s take number one, think before you bite. To really determine is this physical hunger or emotional hunger, you can stop and ask yourself, what am I feeling; am I anxious, nervous about something? Am I really tired? Might I be dehydrated? Am I stressed out? Am I feeling bored or lonely? Is there any other negative emotion in there? Am I trying to numb something or avoid something by eating?
You can stop, put your hands on your stomach, close your eyes, take three slow deep breaths and ask yourself, is this physical hunger? When is the last time I ate, and what did I eat, or is this emotionally-based hunger?
You can do the wait 15 minutes, heck, even wait five, keep the pause button, say I am going to go drink eight ounces, 16 ounces of water, not a soft drink with sugar or get hyped up on Frappuccino loaded with calories.
But, I had one gentleman when I worked at the hospital he said, there is no craving, the 32 ounces of ice coldwater won’t drowned. So, yeah, weigh, deep breathe, delay, drink water, those are all great tactics that help you think before you bite.
Choose a healthy substitute, like there are cocoa dusted almonds that have a lot less calories and saturated fat than dark chocolate-dipped almonds. There is frozen yogurt, low fat, it has a lot less calories than Ben & Jerry’s full fat or, in my case, Blue Bell.
Canned Greek yogurt with fruit and maybe a sprinkling of granola instead of apple pie, if the yogurt is caramel apple yogurt and there is a fresh apple in there and a sprinkling of high-protein granola. I know that doesn’t taste like apple pie, but that’s a healthy substitute.
I learned in Weight Watchers things like frozen grapes or frozen banana, things that are frozen or individually wrapped or like pistachios that we have to crack-open can really slow us down, we don’t bite so quickly.
So what about dietary recommendations? So that daughter of mine is all about like telling people to go to a site like ChooseMyPlate, and I know there is a lot of information out there and a lot of people having success with ketogenic-type diets or paleo-type diets, there is a lot of different types of diet plans available.
What I would say, choose something solid that is medically-based, check with medical professionals or people who have been trained in nutrition and dietetics, and you want to look at their credentials.
Make sure that you are well-educated and you are eating a variety of foods. My kid gets really—gets her soapbox out about, please tell people not everyone has to be gluten-free, like some people are avoiding grains and whole grains are good for them, not refined carbohydrates, not processed foods, OK, those are not as healthy for us, but again, depends on you and what you know.
Well-balanced, nutritious, lots of fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, poultry fish, soy products, beans, healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts, low-fat dairy.
I know in my years of working in the hospital dietitians would say, but as you are making choices you need to be aware of the calories, because if you are taking in more calories than you are burning and you are trying to lose weight, you are not going to lose weight. If you are taking in more than you are burning over time, you are going to gain weight. Oh yeah.
Avoid skipping meals, especially breakfast. I know personally when I weighed 50 pounds more, I never ate breakfast. As a matter of fact, I didn’t eat too much until the sun went down and then I ate a whole lot. And if I learned anything, I learned to kind of balance that out throughout the day.
Dieticians want us to be eating four to six times a day, three meals, two to three snacks in between, a small portion, except with fruits and veggies, especially veggies, load up on those because they fill us up.
Learn about how to eat healthy on a budget. Never use money as an excuse for not eating healthy. Beans, there are—and again, people have different opinions about whether you need to eat all organic food or not, you go with what works best for you and any medical condition you have, but I know my kiddo, who actually has the master’s from Tufts, she will say, mom, if people like won’t buy produce because they think they have to buy organic, please tell them, buy regular and eat it. It is good for you. You don’t have to be so worried that it causes you not to eat anything fresh.
Become a food label detective, when labels have a bunch of ingredients or high fructose corn syrup or a lot of sugar or a lot of sodium, that is not the best investment of our calories.
Avoid empty calories; those are ones that are high in sugar. Things like sodas, even low-calorie sodas, they don’t hydrate our bodies the way that regular water does. Be very leery.
Alcohol is metabolized as fat inside of us and drinks are not calorie free, so we have to be really, really aware.
All right, let’s look at our third tip, hunger-fullness rating scale. This is one of the coolest tools I have ever seen. So, from one, which is ravenously hungry to 10, which is stuffed full, like ate everything at Thanksgiving, kind of full. We can use this scale to try to help us make choices based on how hungry we are and how full we are.
So let’s start at five that’s neutral, you are not hungry or full, we are going to go down the numbers, smaller numbers and get hungry.
At a four we are slightly hungry. Our body is telling us, hey, you need to eat, but you could still wait.
At a three, we are hungry; we are not uncomfortable yet, but the signals are stronger that we need to eat.
At a two, we are very hungry. We start to get irritable or anxious and we want to eat immediately and will eat anything that’s around us. And at a one, we are starving ravenous, weak, lightheaded, dizzy, extremely uncomfortable, and there is not good portion control. We just eat rapidly when we have allowed ourselves to get to a one.
All right, moving up from a five is neutral, when we start to eat.
At a six, we are starting to fill up, we are comfortable. We could definitely eat more.
At a seven, we are full. We are not uncomfortable, but we are not feeling hungry.
At an eight, we are really too full, a little bit uncomfortable.
At a nine, we are pretty stuffed, we are uncomfortable.
And at 10, like we are miserable, like I have got to unsnap these pants. I should have worn sweatpants kind of full.
All right, so what do dietitians recommend? We have got to stay close to the middle, generally between a three and a seven and a four and a six is even better. So how can we do that? We have got to slow down. We have got to do that more frequent meals and snacks. We need to eat every three to four hours.
This actually helps our body’s metabolism. We burn more calories. It helps our blood sugar stay more steady, especially when we are choosing whole grains, higher protein, filling up fruits, veggies, drinking lots of water.
It takes 20 minutes for food to register inside of us. Like when we eat something it takes 20 minutes to feel that, so slowing down is critical. Utensils down, chew a lot. That is definitely helpful with this scale.
Once start eating, don’t eat and do other things; watch television, drive, talk on the phone, do things with electronics and a screen, no, no, no.
Work on feeling satisfied, not necessarily stuffed full. Tell yourself I am going to be eating again pretty soon. You are not going to let yourself get ravenously hungry.
If you think your circuits are faulty, and I know from working with people who have weight issues, many times they don’t register hunger and fullness. There are certain foods that they can eat 2,000 calories of that food, lots of them are the junky food and nothing inside of them would ever say you are full, you are done. When that’s the case we need to really work on planning, eating on a schedule, really tracking, being very mindful.
If a person has ever suffered an eating disorder, their cues for hunger and fullness can be way off. People can learn to tune into their bodies. They can become much more aware of the sensations of hunger and fullness with conscious effort, and this is something that counselors can definitely help someone with.
All right, tip number four, don’t let yourself get too tired or too thirsty. With sleep deprivation, these bullets are some of the things that sleep deprivation can cause. They can cause an increased health risk with high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver and some of that is because with stress people are more inclined to drink more alcohol. Ulcers can take place; birth defects, that’s really scary.
When a person is becoming too tired or having issues where they are not making healthy choices, they might have sleep deprivation that is like blood alcohol levels equivalent to driving under the influence, that might cause a person to have safety risks. It might cost them again to get pulled over and even arrested. There may be damage to relationships.
The threshold for patients can be really low. We can be irritable. Our fuses can be really short when we are very tired. And we can be more prone to depression.
What we know from the National Sleep Foundation, we need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. When we are not adequately rested, hunger hormones are out of whack, leptin and ghrelin go crazy. Ghrelin is the cookie monster hunger hormone; oh, I am starving, give me more, give me more. That one goes into overdrive when we are tired.
Leptin, the oh, thank you, I have had enough hormone, that one doesn’t register. So can you see how this just perpetuates the problem for us?
Take a nap when you can. Go to bed earlier. Get away from food. Instead of eating late at night, maybe you need to go to bed.
Drink at least 64 ounces of water, fruit infused water, sassy water it's called, that’s really good, and your body responds differently to plain water or sassy water than to water that’s artificially sweetened. Be very aware of how much you are sleeping and how much you are taking in, in the way of water.
Set yourself up for success, absolutely. Determine situations, triggers in your life that cause you to reach for less healthy snacks or cause you to overeat or even binge.
Take it up with planning. Plan what time you are going to eat, where you are going to be, what are you going to eat exactly, what are the contents of your meals going to be. Failing to plan is planning to fail. So just set yourself up for success requires some planning.
Do a menu on the weekend. Get a grocery list together. Lots of places, you can order online. You are willing to pay, they will deliver it. Or do curbside pickup if you are pinched for time.
Keep a mood and food journal. That’s a great way to figure out, am I eating to soothe feelings? What’s the day, the time, the location? What did I eat? What was I feeling?
Consider using HALT. HALT is am I Hungry; physically or emotionally hungry, am I Angry, that’s the A of halt or Anxious? Am I feeling Lonely or bored, or am I Tired? These are great words to use with that mood and food journal.
Let’s look, we have got another slide of setting yourself up for success. Be very aware of your portion size. In the world we live in supersize is pretty common, the amount served to you on a restaurant plate, trust me, it’s more than one serving there. Yeah, cut down. Restaurant dining, box half of it upfront or share with someone or order off the appetizers.
Never go grocery shopping when you are either stressed out or physically starving. We will really load up on things that are not as healthy for us. Remove junk and comfort food. Put things that are healthier at eye level, bring those things to work, put them in your break room or in your desk drawer and have those ready to go.
Set realistic expectations for yourself. That’s a very important one, not just with food, it kind of debunks all or nothing thinking, but also with holidays, to manage stress successfully make sure that you are looking at what you are thinking is humanly possible for yourself, for your children, for people around you.
What about using tools for tracking? Tracking, we have greater success when we are keeping some kind of record. And let me tell you, there is lots of ways to do this. You can track with apps. Some of the ones I have heard are very helpful; FitBit, MyFitnessPal, Luminosity, Nudge, Waterlogged helps you track water, Mood Tune, Optimism, Headspace, Mint, there are lots. Lose It! is a great one. It can help you track food, exercise and your mood. So go looking in the app store for what might be helpful to you.
Track what you eat, how much you are drinking, how much sleep you are getting, how much you are moving around. And some people are just opposed to tracking. They are like, oh, I don’t want to track, I have to keep track of stuff all day at work, I don’t want to track.
This is what I know. Awareness brings better decision-making and success. Don’t cheat yourself. Even if nobody saw you do it, it really happened and you can’t round 10 minutes of walking up to an hour, it just doesn’t work that way.
Find ways to be accountable. OK, for number seven, this is about managing stress, and most of us have a lot of good ideas about how to manage stress, but we just have trouble connecting what we know and what we are doing.
Deep breathing is wonderful. Relaxation and visualization can be a very powerful in our lives. This can help us when we are experiencing emotional hunger, as I mentioned. It can help us manage stressful situations in our lives. It can help us manage our emotions more effectively.
Oh yes, excellent with breathing, relaxation, using your mind, go on a mental vacation or visualize yourself doing something successfully.
Make a list of things you can do when you are stressed out and you want to eat, keep that list handy. Do notes in your phone. Some ideas; you can take a walk, you could call or text a friend, you could do a chore, clean out a drawer or read an article or get out a book that you like, or log something on your Kindle or on your screen.
You could move to music. You could doodle. You could draw. You can smile, laugh. Try to back away, put things in perspective. Prayer and meditation can be incredibly powerful. Keep the list with you. Physical activity is wonderful. Listen to your body. I love this bullet; make peace with food. You don’t have to feel like you are doing battle in your life, try to change your attitude about food and about eating, and if it feels like some food is your best friend, try to get some real people in there to be your best friend instead of some less healthy food.
Build strong support network. Connect with people, even a person, an accountability partner, someone you can talk to, very helpful.
Talk to yourself like a good coach and not like a critic. Encourage yourself.
Examine your attitudes and your values and your belief system. I mentioned some of that stuff that might have gotten programmed in childhood, you can get reprogrammed.
Realistic expectations I talked about with setting yourself up for success.
Prioritize your time. Try to make sure you are aiming for some kind of balanced, healthier lifestyle and carve out a few minutes here and a few minutes there. You are not going to get an extra two hours a day to work on this. You work on a little bit here and a little bit there where you can.
Learn to say no, and I know that’s not easy for some people, but set limits, prioritize, stop making excuses. You are not going to be able to keep everyone happy or do everything all the time. You are just one little human, probably not wearing a cape or a big F on your chest, right, no superheroes out there, although some of us live like we think we are.
This is one of my favorites, mindfulness; it’s about being here and now. In terms of eating and healthy stress management, mindfulness is a powerful tool in your bag. Stop, tune into the present moment. Before you eat something, tune into the food, anticipate it, look at it, what does it look like, what colors are there, what does it smell like, what do you anticipate the texture and taste is going to be like? Use as many senses as possible.
Think about where the food came from; hopefully you can identify where it came from, hopefully closer to the earth? Slow down. Look at your food carefully. Cut it, small bites. Chew a lot. Enjoy the taste, savor the moment.
Think about what you are eating and how it’s providing good fuel for your body. It’s helping you with your health and longevity.
You can slow you down to eat with your non-dominant hand. When you are eating with other people, focus on the food and the conversation and really think about food as being part of an experience and not just the way most of us, we are able to wolf down a meal in record time.
So think about your triggers for overeating, that less healthy cycle that I talked about. Pay attention to mindless munching. Don’t take a large bag to the couch when you are feeling stressed and you just sit there with it and wedge with something on the television or with your monitor and you are like, oh my gosh, now it’s all gone. I was the only one here. Don’t do that.
Try to identify the roots of the hunger, is it emotionally based, is it physically based? Use that Hunger-Fullness Rating Scale that we talked about. Think about using mindfulness, using the tools we have gone over.
Try to gauge your appetite. See if you have gotten any of those less healthy cycles established based on emotional needs rather than on physical hunger.
Healthy eating involves more than just what you eat. It involves how you eat it. Practice the steps we have talked about. And again, what we are talking about not only helps you with stress and with feeling your body the ripple effect it helps you in all areas of health in your life, which is often.