One of the biggest downfalls to working from home is the food.
It’s always there.
A handful away.
All you have to do is get yourself up from your work station, open the pantry or fridge door and start munching away.
But as you know, this mindless eating is a recipe for disaster. It’s a great way to go from crushing your day to losing all hope.
During this COVID-19 lockdown, stress is also a factor. On top of just mindless eating, you now have stress working against you. Most of you are stressed about your jobs, your job future, your friends, your family, their jobs and futures, your favorite local businesses, the state of the country, the state of other countries, your city, the healthcare workers, the fact that you’re now home with your spouse or kids, the stress of being alone...the list goes on and on.
What it leaves you with is a high stressed environment with all the access to triggering foods.
I was on the phone with my dad the other day. They’ve been on lockdown in New Orleans for 12 days now. They’ve reached the full boredom phase...on top of the already mindless eating AND stress.
SO now you have mindless eating from simply being around it 24/7, stress eating, AND boredom eating.
What do you do? Do you throw out the food? Do you give up hope and just expect 2020 to stay dreadful? Do you just wait for 2021?
Obviously you should know by now there is always an answer. You DON’T have to give up your goals. Today’s blog is going to teach you some of my go-to methods for fending off stress eating, boredom eating, and mindless eating.
These are my favorite top 10 ways to end stress eating while you’re stuck at home...bored, stress, and mindless!!
Step 1. CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
What is your goal? What was your goal leading up to this point? Do they match? Have they changed?
Ask yourself the tough question...”Is what I’m doing now helping me or hindering me? IF I had to guess, I’d say the answer is no...otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this 😉
The biggest mindset shift that’s going to be required, and why this point is first, is that you’re entering a different season and you will need to recognize that and comes to terms with that in order to make it through to the other end.
We, coaches, like to teach and work from the Triangle of Awareness. This philosophy states that you’re realistically only able to achieve one goal at a time: aesthetics, health/longevity, or performance/strength. They’re different goals that require different methods and practices...which is why they’re separated. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, you likely were in an aesthetics or performance season. As we were nearing bikini season entering beautiful outdoor weather, this is pretty common. I was training for an Ironman. My nutrition reflected performance not aesthetics. Carbs were high. Meal timing was specific. Salt and fruit were measured and accounted for.
So what season are we in now? For MOST, I would say a season of health, longevity and maintenance.
Could you see weight loss during this period? YES. Should you? Maybe not. Losing weight is a stress. Your immune system does take a hit. Hunger is higher. Cravings are worse. If you’re not used to always being around endless amounts of food, then you’re going to struggle. You’re creating the problem by dropping your calories.
Instead of focusing on PRs and the number on the scale dropping, you’re likely going to switch to a period of maintenance, habits, and higher food to recover, rest, and NOT feel like you need to eat a whole pantry.
THIS SEASON IS SO DAMN IMPORTANT!!
SO many people struggle with maintenance... because it’s “goal-less” in their minds. Most of your life is spent in maintenance... switch your mindset from “I can’t achieve anything now” to “I get to practice for my whole life”. You cut for 3-6 months at a time... the rest is maintaining. Practice it. Learn intuitive eating. Learn how it feels when you’re not starving.
Step 2. GET AWARE & REALISTIC
What are you eating now? Are you eating protein? Carbs? Fats? What is a whole food source and what is processed? What is binging? What is planned?
You have nothing but time to figure this out. START making it a priority. Log your food, water, and meal timing for a couple of days then evaluate. How many calories are you eating? Is that enough? [NOT SURE?? Apply here for a free call to figure that out with me.] When are you eating? Are you going HOURS between meals? Are you skipping meals?
Be realistic. Where are you falling short? ALSO where are you crushing it? Are you exercising well or sleeping more than you’ve ever slept?? GREAT! Celebrate that.
Awareness precedes change. If you’re not liking what you’re doing...before you change, you have to first figure out what the hell you’re doing wrong to begin with.
Step 3. CHANGE UP MEAL FREQUENCY
My general recommendation is to increase the number of meals you’re eating in a day.
Hunger cues typically show up 2-3 hours after a meal. At work, you’re working. You also are limited by the food you bought. Your routine dictates your meal frequency and your adherence. Now you don’t have that.
Yes, I could (and will later on) tell you that if you’re hungry to drink water and go for a walk and yada yada...but first there’s something way more effective. That method is pretty ineffective because you’re still hungry and can’t always rely on water or walks to not eat food. What if it’s raining?? What if you’ve already peed like 30 times and can’t imagine drinking more water?
We know hunger cues show up every 2-3 hours after eating...so put meals there! Eat every 3ish hours...totally to 4-5 meals/day. Yes you’ll eat smaller amounts at each meal...but if you include at least a handful of protein, veggies, and carbs at each meal 4-5x/day, you’re going to feel like you’re always eating and that you’re actually full! You realize you don’t WANT to eat and now have the willpower to tell that bowl of ice cream “no”.
Step 4. MAKE A PLAN...AND STICK WITH IT
The night before, figure out what you’re going to eat so you know you’re not going to eat too much or too little. Especially if you’re new to 4-5 meals/day, it’s going to feel off and not intuitive. PLAN ahead. SO many times, a client check in says “I get to the end of the day and either WAY under budget or WAY over?? What do I do??” I simply tell them to plan ahead. It’s kinda hard to deviate when you’ve made sure it falls in place before the day even starts.
Step 5. Create a day and routine around your food.
Related to #4, structure your day better and factor those meals in. In addition to planning WHAT those meals are, plan WHEN, too! Set alarms on your phone to remind you to eat...and if the alarm/reminder hasn’t gone off then stay out of the pantry. Time block meals in your day, from breakfast lunch and dinner to your snacks. Having structure helps tremendously. Remember, the reason you are struggling is because you don’t have structure now! Create and mimic that structure you have with work.
Step 6. START FIRST WITH HEALTHY OPTIONS
If you feel a binge coming on, start with a glass of water or some fruit. Get some healthiness in there so you feel less shame around it. It’ll also take up space in your stomach for less of the sweets or processed food you’re gravitating towards.
Make a bowl of berries and a sparkling water. Have that, wait 15 minutes then evaluate if you’re still hungry. IF you are, have a small handful of what you’re craving. Wait another 15 minutes. By that point, you should be good.
Step 7. Remove triggering foods
At some point, if nothing is working, then it’s time to toss out the triggers towards your binges. I don’t keep ice cream around unless I KNOW I’m in a season where it’s okay to maybe indulge a little. IF I’m feeling stressed, anxious, or in a cut or deficit, I know inhibitions are a bit lower and I’m going to just remove them all together and save me the stress and trouble.
If you feel guilty throwing food away, donate it or have a family member hide the foods and not tell you where they are.
Step 8. STAY ACTIVE
EXERCISE!!! Move ya body. Go for walks. Do at home workouts. Do yoga. If you’re gym is hosting virtual classes, DO THEM. Not only will you keep your caloric expenditure high, but you’ll be reducing stress, boosting your motivation and willpower, and likely will be able to put down the spoon to your ice cream bowl.
Step 9. ASK THE TOUGH QUESTIONS
If you’re feeling a binge coming on, ask yourself these questions:
Am I hungry or am I bored?
When did I last eat?
How much have I eaten?
When is my next meal planned out?
HOW hungry am I?
Will another food option serve me better?
Can it wait? IF I wait, will it get worse?
Will this food satisfy me?
If after you ask yourself these questions and you’re still leaning towards that snackie...then time for number 10!
Step 10. REMOVE GUILT AND ASSOCIATION WITH “BAD FOOD”
You’re in a different season right now...and that season may mean that you’re including more treats here and there. Go back to step #2. Get realistic.
Realistically what can you achieve? What level of commitment can you adhere to? Adherence is key. I could give you the perfect macro prescription and calories for a cut...but if you’re not going to adhere to it because it’s either not a priority, too difficult, or whatever the reason may be, then it doesn’t matter. It’s only going to lead to boredom and stress and eating all the things.
The last step is ACCEPTANCE. Accepting you’re in a different season and remove the GUILT if you do binge or have some unhealthy foods. ENJOY the food. You’re not put on this Earth to eat only salads. You’re allowed and encouraged to have some ice cream. You don’t always have to “eat to live”...you can “live to eat” sometimes too! THAT’S OKAY! Just indulge and put the food away when you’re done and get back to your normal life!
Now should you do all 10?? Not necessarily! It really just depends. Definitely read through them all. Assess if this is either a problem for you personally or if it’s relevant to your lifestyle. For example, if you’re already eating 5 meals/day, don’t increase your meal frequency or drop your frequency down to 2 meals/day. Keep it where you’re at. Choose from another option! You also may not need all 10 to be effective. You could be eating 2 meals/day and the second you increase that frequency to 4-5 meals, everything is solved. I recommend reading through everything, then assessing what 1-3 steps are easiest and most feasible for you to attempt and start there. Give it a few days before adding another option and maybe removing one that doesn’t work. IF something works, just hold there!! Don’t keep adding for the sake of adding. You’re trying the find the minimal dose...the smallest amount of change that will yield results.
I am still offering FREE strategy calls at this time! If you’re struggling, hop on a free call with me so we can game plan your upcoming weeks in quarantine!
Resources and Coaching:
Online Coaching here.
[Free] Nutrition Guide here.
Recipe & Macro Guide here.