Whenever I have to stay up late studying, nothing sounds better than indulging in some sugary snacks to keep me company. That brownie or those hot cheetos may seem extra comforting under times of stress, but eating unhealthy food usually only makes you feel worse. One way you can determine if you are actually hungry or just stress eating is using the broccoli test. If you would not eat broccoli at that moment, then you probably are not actually hungry. After doing some research, I found 5 easy but helpful things you can do when you feel like you want to stress eat:
1. Drink water
Ever been so stressed that you completely forgot to drink water all day? Well, dehydration can actually cause stress, which might cause you to result to stress eating. Drinking more water will not only prevent you from getting more stressed, but will also keep you full and prevent you from indulging in unhealthy snacks.
2. Chew gum
This one may seem weird, but chewing gum is a great way to stop you from stress eating. This study showed that chewing gum can promote increased alertness, positive mood, and increased attention. So, chewing gum is perfect for late night studying when you need to focus.
3. Work out
I often choose not to go to the gym if I'm too busy or stressed. But because exercise boosts your endorphins, physical activity makes for a great stress-reliever. If you feel the need to stress eat, going to the gym for any amount of time can help those urges subside and decrease your stress.
4. Do yoga or meditate
If you feel the urge to stress eat, practicing yoga or meditation for a few minutes can help by making you feel more relaxed and allowing your body to recover from the stress you are feeling. By concentrating on controlled breathing, you are dedicating those minutes to your body and releasing any tension you have, which will take your mind off of the food you are craving.
5. Take a break and relax
Go for a walk, close your eyes and listen to music, or spend a few minutes with friends to take your mind off of your stress and your food cravings. This study showed that individuals who take breaks will likely be more focused and that prolonged attention can actually worsen performance.
Stress is something that affects every one of us, and stress eating is a negative side effect of that. But research shows that these tips can help reduce stress and thus reduce your urge to splurge. While food is always great, it is definitely not always the answer to your problems.