By Janyn Zoccoli
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.
4 Tips for Maintaining Healthy Eating Habits in Times of Stress
1. Tune in to your hunger cues
Take some time to check in with yourself and your eating habits during stressful times:
- Are you are snacking or eating more often than normal?
- Are you are not eating at all during the day
- Are you are eating larger or smaller portions than normal?
- Are you are eating at different times than usual (eg. very late or very early)?
- Are you actually hungry? If yes, how hungry are you?
- Are you bored? Stressed? Anxious? If yes, is eating what you need right now?
Asking yourself these questions will help you 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, move your body, or get some fresh air
- Read a book
- Play or listen to music
- Watch a show or movie
- Clean / do chores or organize
We have a whole blog post dedicated to Stress Eating! Read more here!
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 in Advance
Having prepared meals on hand may be helpful for individuals who find it hard to eat while stressed or those who are eating at different times than normal as it is convenient and easy.
If meal preparation was part of your daily routine, continue to schedule in time to prep meals for the week. In contrast, if you find cooking adds to your stress, it may be helpful to meal prep so that most of the cooking can be done 1-2 times per week. Check out our blog post for easy Exam Season Snack Ideas!
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.