“When you experience acute, temporary stress, it suppresses your appetite temporarily. But if the stress is chronic and ongoing, it causes a release of cortisol which, in turn, affects your appetite and causes you to want to eat even if you’re not really hungry. Your body is programmed to want more food when you’re experiencing ongoing stress and high levels of adrenaline.

So, you’re feeling stressed out, and you want to eat even though you’re not especially hungry. Do you crunch on a celery stalk? Probably not. Your body wants extra glucose for quick energy to deal with the adrenaline boost. And so you automatically veer toward foods high in fat and sugar and quick carbohydrates. There’s a reason we call those “comfort foods,” as they help dampen that stress response.

You need to figure out how to calm yourself with stress-relieving activities, which aren’t the same for everyone. Typical stress-relieving activities include reading, writing/journaling, being in nature, talking to a friend, meditating/deep breathing, doing a puzzle, physical activity, music, photography, coloring, mindful eating, flower-arranging, knitting, etc. Be careful about screens and electronics, as they may engage the brain in such a way that it triggers stress or excitement.

Create a list of your top stress-busting activities. Keep your list somewhere you’ll see it, like on your fridge or mirror, and decorate it or use colored paper or stickers to make it “pop.” The next time you reach for the freezer door handle, looking for that comforting tub of ice cream, you’ll see the list of activities instead. And be sure to move the list around, so that you don’t get so accustomed to seeing it that you become blind to it.”


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