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By Jean Hanks, MS, RDN, CDN

During this unprecedented time, many of us are feeling stressed, anxious and fearful of what the future holds. It can be easy to pick up unhealthy habits, particularly when it comes to eating.

Studies have shown that stress (and with it fear, depression and anger) can lead us to seek comfort from foods that are high in sugar and/or fat. But these “comfort foods,” as delicious as they are, tend to be rich in calories, and poor in essential nutrients. Loading up on these foods may provide us immediate satisfaction, but guilt later on.

Here are some tips to combat stress eating and create overall healthy eating

  1. Keep a limited supply of processed snacks in the house. Before you make your next grocery trip, take inventory of your current snack foods and assess what you really need. At the grocery store, read the nutrition labels – do the products contain quality ingredients and essential vitamins and minerals? Or are they loaded with salt, sugar and fat? Try to refrain from purchasing large amounts of the highly processed chips, crackers and sweets. The more you have at home, the more you will be tempted to graze.
  2. When you do snack – portion control is key. Eating straight from a large bag or container of food is an easy way to eat more than the
    suggested serving size, which can mean hundreds of extra calories consumed. When you have the urge to snack, make it a point to portion out the food into a smaller bowl. It’s fine to go for seconds, but ask yourself first – “am I really hungry for more?”
  3. Eat distraction-free. Mindfulness is always important when it comes to eating. Try to free yourself from distractions, including the television, social media and work emails and focus on the meal
    in front of you. If you live with a partner and/or kids, encourage them to do the same. When we eat free of distractions, we become more aware of feelings of satiety, which can help prevent overeating.
  4. Observe consistent meal times. If the pandemic is keeping you at home during the workday, you likely have more freedom to eat when you want. Try to keep your eating patterns the same as if you were
    going into the office everyday. This not only leaves less room for mindless snacking, but it helps you keep some semblance of a routine, which may be comforting during this uncertain time.

For more tips and strategies to create healthier eating habits, click the link below to schedule a no-cost nutrition counseling appointment!