Here's a quick quiz for you: when you feel emotional and stressed out, what kinds of food do you eat?
If you're like most of us, your answer might be sugar, caffeine, salty foods, or nothing at all. It's the strangest paradox of all. When we're emotionally stressed out and really need good nutrients, we reach for foods that have the least nutrients of all. We fall into the trap of emotional eating, which actually causes us to feel more stressed than ever, even if we feel a bit better in the moment.
For instance, caffeine and sugar can cause your blood sugar to plummet after an hour or two. Plus, caffeine can cause increased stress in your heart rate, respiration, muscle coordination, and thought processes. Emotional eating helps you feel better in the short term, but can really cause a serious physical and emotional crash later.
Stress and nutrients are closely intertwined. When we're stressed, eating right can help us get rid of that stress, since stress increases the need for certain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And when we eat right, we're less likely to get stressed because our bodies and minds have all the nutrients they need to handle stressful situations.
How can you take simple steps to eat right and avoid emotional eating? Check these quick fixes for stress reduction and good nutrition:
1. Avoid Heavy Sweets
If you've got a sweet tooth when you're stressed, try eating sweet fruits such as bananas, peaches, and melons instead. Or, try a cup of honey-lemon tea with plenty of honey. Honey won't strip your body of vital nutrients and lemon has a refreshing zing that will keep you awake. As a bonus, during the winter honey is actually warming to the body while sugar makes you feel cold. Honey also satisfies your sweet tooth when you feel the need for emotional eating.
2. Make Wise Choices Automatic
When you feel highly emotional it can be hard to slow down and choose the best foods to eat. It is more tempting to reach for the nearest snack foods, which are usually loaded with sugar or caffeine. To avoid this temptation, bring healthy snacks with you to eat during the day, including apples and peanut butter or celery with cream cheese. Even string cheese and a handful of nuts are better for you than a candy bar.
Drink pure water to refresh and cleanse your body and brain. Water is essential to every function in your body, and the more stressed you are, the more water you need. If you drink coffee, drink two cups of water for every cup of coffee. The same formula holds true for sodas. If you have trouble drinking enough water, try adding lime or sea salt to improve the taste. If you feel the urge for emotional eating, drink one glass of water first, then stop and consider your foods choices. The water will give you a feeling of fullness and give you a little extra time to prevent a food binge.
No matter what you choose to eat, taking food enzymes with every meal will improve your digestion and help you get the most out of everything you eat. Better digestion leads to higher energy, which means you won't feel so stressed. Less stress in turn helps you avoid emotional eating.
5. Get Enough Green
Eating green foods can give you a serious nutritional boost because chlorophyll plays a huge part in your body's health. For instance, research shows that chlorophyll is effective in rebuilding the blood, stimulating liver function, strengthening immunity, and detoxifying chemical pollutants. Numerous recent studies have also indicated that chlorophyll has anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic properties. In short, getting enough chlorophyll can help you feel more vital and less stressed, which equals less emotional eating. Chlorophyll is found in highest concentrations in green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, as well as wheat grass and blue-green algae.