Stress is a normal reaction to challenging or unsure times in our lives, but sometimes too much stress can have negative effects on our health. It is important to recognize how stress impacts your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Here are four tips to maintain regular eating habits during times of stress.
1. Tune into your hunger cues
Take some time to check-in with yourself and your eating habits during stressful times:
- Are you snacking or eating more often than normal?
- Are you eating larger or smaller portions than normal?
- Are you not eating at all during the day?
- Are you eating at different times than usual (e.g. very late or very early)?
You may notice that you eat more often than usual when you are stressed. Periodically throughout the day and before a meal or snack, check in with how you are feeling.
- Am I actually hungry? How hungry am I?
- Am I bored? Stressed? Anxious? Is eating what I need right now?
Asking yourself these questions will help you to become more in tune with your hunger cues and may help you to make a more conscious choice.
Some things you can do instead of eating out of boredom:
- Drink water
- Go for a walk and get fresh air
- Read a good book
- Play or listen to music
- Watch a show or movie
- Clean/do chores/organize
2. Set reminders on your phone or computer
If you are finding it challenging to eat throughout the day or are eating at different times than usual it may be helpful to set reminders on your phone or computer. These reminders can be set to your usual eating times and will give you an opportunity to check in with your hunger and energy levels.
3. Prepare meals
Have prepared meals on hand to make mealtimes convenient and easy. In particular, if you find cooking adds to your stress, it may be helpful to plan your meal prep so most of your cooking can be done 1-2 times per week.
4. Be kind to yourself
Now more than ever, in these uncertain and potentially scary times, it is important to be kind to yourself and others. It may take time to adjust to this new lifestyle and situation so let yourself do so with patience.
Eating when we are stressed is a form of coping with the situation and it is okay to engage in this coping strategy. However, there are many other coping strategies that can help you get through this stressful time.