Our modern pace of life, work, and daily concerns can very easily lead us to feel stressed and anxious. And more often than not, when we are anxious or show any symptoms of these conditions, we turn to food as a refuge to feel better and calm down. It is in that moment that food can become our worst enemy: we consume unnecessary calories and then we feel guilty for having consumed them. It becomes a vicious circle that is hard to break free from, but fortunately, there are some easy solutions.
So today, at Enlighten, we decided to put together a list of easy and effective tips to avoid overeating when you’re feeling stressed or going through a rough patch. Here are our findings!
1. Chew gum
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Chewing gum is a very effective treat when it comes to reducing stress. When you start feeling restless or upset, you can chew sugarless gum to help you stay calm and focused. Also, according to this study, chewing sugar-free gum can reduce your daily calorie intake, while at the same time increasing the amount of energy we burn every day. That’s good news!
2. Drink tea
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Infusions can be powerful allies when it comes to tricking our brains into believing that we’re not hungry. Every time you feel anxious and want to run to open the refrigerator, opt for making yourself a relaxing tea instead. Not only will you feel more relaxed, but you will also be able to hydrate your body and eliminate toxins. Most importantly, you will feel satisfied, which is exactly what we’re looking for here. You can try an infusion of lemon leaves and basil, which has an anti-stress effect, or red tea, which is an antioxidant and helps control your appetite.
3. Say no to stimulant drinks
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Coffee, and any type of beverage containing caffeine, are known to be enemies of anything related to calmness and relaxation. This substance (which is usually combined with sugar) increases the amount of adrenaline present in your body and enhances the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Then, a vicious circle is triggered: you feel more stressed and want to eat more. That’s why, instead of having breakfast with coffee or drinking a soda with lunch, it’s better to choose a cup of tea or a glass of lemonade.
4. Eat spicy food, but not every day
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Some research claims that adding hot peppers to your meal could reduce your appetite. Capsaicin — the substance that makes chili peppers hot — makes the body feel full and burns more calories than other foods. This is because your body uses more energy to process the heat from the hot peppers. So, if you feel anxious, you can try this trick to satisfy your appetite, and avoid eating again soon after your meal. But be careful to not use it daily, because otherwise your body will get used to it and it will not produce the same effect.
5. Avoid red and yellow in food
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Did you know that colors have a huge influence on your appetite? When we see a meal or a wrapper with one of the shades mentioned in the title, our brain triggers a series of mechanisms that make us feel hungry. That’s why it’s recommended that you avoid foods with these colors in your kitchen if you want to lose weight. That way it will be easier for you to avoid the urge and craving to eat when you’re feeling anxious or stressed.
6. Eat foods that help you produce the “happiness hormone.”
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Serotonin is known as “the hormone of happiness,” because it is basically in charge of regulating our mood. When serotonin levels are low, we tend to feel more stressed and emotionally unstable, which can lead us to crave more food in bigger quantities. It is key to properly regulate your body’s serotonin levels in order to have a balanced diet. Normally, your body does that for you, but you can also eat foods that are rich in tryptophan (a substance that helps level out our serotonin), like pineapple, spinach, plums, and avocados. This way, you’ll give your body the help it needs to get back on track.
7. Eat bread with olive oil for breakfast