Give Your Life (and Diet) a Stress-Check

By Stephanie Clarke, MS, RD, Nutritionist

In today’s hectic world, it’s easy to feel like you have too much on your plate. And unfortunately, the stress from our supercharged, accelerated lifestyles can trigger emotional eating patterns that can wreak havoc on our weight and overall well-being. Because eating and lifestyle are intertwined, it’s important to find both health and happiness in all areas of your life. Use the tips below to get your life and eating habits on an even keel.

Lifestyle: When compiling your daily to-do list, include only the most important tasks for each day to minimize unnecessary stress. (Long to-do lists are overwhelming and can be a source of frustration.) And don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for all you’ve accomplished that day. Rather than stressing over any unfinished tasks (and there shouldn’t be many because you’ve created a more realistic list), simply add them to your list for tomorrow.

Food: At the beginning of the week, look over your meal plans and decide what you’ll be eating. Then, make a detailed list of the foods you’ll need and stick with it. You’ll find that it can make your trip to the supermarket less stressful, reduce the chance of mindless overeating and help you get more satisfaction out of the process of creating meals and snacks throughout the week.

Lifestyle: To stay happy and healthy, you’ll have to learn to offset your workload with some leisure time. For many people, that means making a conscious effort to find room on your “life plate” for fun activities, such as a dance lesson, a hike or spending time with friends and family.

Food: Moderation is essential when it comes to diet, too. Whenever you’re doling out food, be sure to fill half your plate with vegetables, which are filling, low in calories and loaded with nutrients. The antioxidants in these healthy foods may also help keep your cells in top form to help fight stress-induced ailments. (Fill a quarter of your plate with whole grains, such as brown rice or quinoa, and another last quarter with lean protein, such as white meat chicken, turkey or fish.)

Lifestyle: No one is perfect, yet many of us expect more of ourselves than we can really achieve. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t aim high, but try to cut yourself some slack and allow some flexibility in your life. For instance, if your day is so jam-packed with meetings and work projects that you can’t spare a minute for unexpected interruptions, you’ll be disappointed with yourself when you’re not able to stick to your schedule or complete your work. Be realistic about how much you can really tackle each day so you don’t end up letting yourself down.

Food: What a relief to know that you can eat a healthy diet, lose weight and still enjoy your favorite treats! Just remember to keep portions under control. For example, instead of eating the entire chocolate cake, grab a few dark chocolate chips to curb your sweet tooth.

Lifestyle: Plan a few minutes of each day – even if it’s just five minutes – to do something for yourself. Go outside for a quick walk or a breath of air, close your eyes and meditate or do some gentle stretching at your desk. This will leave you calm, rejuvenated and ready to make it through the rest of the day.

Food: It helps to be time-conscious when you’re eating—it takes at least 20 minutes for the stomach to let your brain know that it is full. By eating slowly, you give your body the chance to process whether it has had enough. Take a look at your watch before you start eating and make a mental note of the time. To slow the pace of your meal, put your fork down between bites and take time to savor your food.


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