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Break up with comfort eating

October 5, 2019

Tips to avoid comfort eating

Tension is high at work. Quotas are due. Deadlines are coming up. At home, your to-do list is a mile long. In times like this, you turn to your best friend: your favorite sweet or salty snack. You munch on it between keystrokes on the computer. You grab a handful as you go down the hall to battle the jammed printer. That sweet, salty goodness is the only thing giving you life right now…

But why?

Why have we trained ourselves to go to food in moments of stress, sadness, or celebration. At birthdays, we mark the occasion with cake and pizza. During breakups, we grab the ice cream. On Friday nights, we welcome the weekends with friends over drinks.

Of course, everything is okay in moderation, but too many empty calories can add up quickly. Three pints of beer at the bar puts you in the red over 600 calories — the equivalent of three medium donuts … with chocolate. All those snacks we sneak in during the day, on average, have the caloric equivalent to a whole extra meal. There’s even some evidence to suggest that eating when you’re stressed causes more weight gain than eating the same food as when you’re not. And honestly, who on earth isn’t stressed?

We love comfort eating so much because it’s … well, comforting. It makes the good times better and the bad times a little less bad. But reflexively reaching for those salty nuggets of delicious calories aren’t doing any favors for your fitness goals. And lifelong eating habits are harder to break than the old Nokia phone you had in high school.

Of course, there’s tons of scientific studies that show exercise is a great way to relieve stress and replace cortisol (the stress hormone that causes increased fat cells) with endorphins (the happy hormone)! But not everyone is able to get in a workout on their lunch break or late at night. Next time the urge strikes and you can’t hit the gym, here are some other options to help you break up with comfort eating:

  • Read a book: Reading a book, even fiction, that you enjoy stimulates the brain and encourages muscle relaxation. You could even reach for a good personal development book to help you develop strategies to conquer your day.
  • Listen! Podcasts, audiobooks, and music all can help boost your mood and take your mind off of the stresses of the day for even 30 minutes can help you reset. (I enjoy listening while doing mundane tasks like washing the dishes or folding laundry.)
  • Go for a walk! It may seem silly, but removing yourself from the stressful environment can be benefiting in and of itself. Get the blood flowing, even without a heavy or sweaty workout, walking will benefit your mood

Need help avoiding those temptations?

  • Pack some healthy options. Pack some healthy options. A piece of fruit provides something sweet but doesn’t contain artificial flavorings, colors, or added sugar. Things like apples, bananas, and oranges also travel well.
  • Stay out of the break room—if possible! That’s where the communal donuts or brownies wait for you.
  • HYDRATE! Drinking plenty of water can actually help reduce cravings.

When you’re feeling like your emotions are controlling your eating habits, it’s time to re-evaluate the situation. You’re in a bad relationship. It’s time to break up with comfort eating.

Interested in more nutrition tips and fitness coaching? Sign up for a free workout session with an online personal trainer (like me!). We provide customized, affordable one-on-one workouts that you can do right from your own home. Just hop on a video chat and get started with your new personal trainer today.

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