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How can I avoid eating junk food when stressed?

When stress hits, cortisol tells our brains that we are hungry, so we then seek out a meal. Unfortunately, cortisol’s message to our brain also says we want to eat sugary, fatty foods—all the wrong foods for stopping the cycle. Rich, sugary foods don’t do much for us but contribute to insulin swings, poor blood-sugar balance, as well as extra pounds, pot bellies, and worse moods. What’s more, the usual culprits—ice cream, cookies, Snickers bars—register in our brain’s reward center in ways that make us crave them even more.

The following are two strategies that reduce the magnetic pull of sugary and fatty foods.
  • First, eat lots more lean protein. This will both give you more energy and fight hunger pangs, which can play games with your moods. Protein is key to mood stability, due to its effect on maintaining a healthy blood-sugar balance, which in turn keeps certain hormones like insulin in check. Carbohydrates, especially low-quality ones, aren’t nearly as sustaining as good-quality proteins, such as fish, eggs, low-fat dairy, poultry, and even walnuts. Proteins are required for growing hair and nails, and they are the building blocks for enzymes and hormones, including the ones that participate in keeping you glowing beautiful.
  • Second, write down the top five guilty treats you tend to reach for when you’re stressed. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Chunky Monkey, chips, cookies, M&Ms, whatever. Then, don’t eliminate them entirely. However, when you do succumb, eat only half of what you normally would. Or less: Sometimes a bite or two will satisfy you. That’s it—an easy step toward reducing your stress, steadying your weight, and shrinking your belly.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.

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    Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.