There’s no denying that we’re living in stressful times.  Between financial worries and every day stressors, I’m sure all of us have come home one day to seek comfort from an old friend:

FOOD.

Maybe it’s chocolate. Perhaps it’s a slice of cake.  Or maybe it’s an entire blue box of Kraft mac and cheese.  (Raises hand).  Whatever it is, each one of us has a comfort food that we turn to in our “deepest” time of need.

I found an interesting article recently from 2003, that said that high-fat, high-carbohydrate comfort foods actually fight stress by stemming the tide of stress-related hormones that are released when people are acutely exposed to stress.  “WOOHOOO!,”  I thought, without reading any further.  “Yet another excuse to dip my hand into the chocolate chip container after a bad day!”

Obviously, there’s a catch.  Those same ingredients in our go-to comfort foods  also make us gain weight. When stress is chronic, we increase our risk for obesity by turning to our favorite foods.

Clearly, all of us know that fighting stress with Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines is not the solution.  However, how do you ignore that part of your brain that encourages you to grab the sweet stuff?

I’ve read a lot of articles regarding how to resist temptation when it comes to eating.  The most common advice is:

  • Drink water.
  • Excercise.
  • Wait 20 minutes to see if you still want to eat something.
  • Find a healthier alternative.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t say these survival strategies work for me, particularly in high stress situations.  I know this is all a game of willpower and that my problem lies with not being able to control my impulses, but none of these suggestions have ended up helping me in the long run, in spite of my using them daily.

This is something I still struggle with on a daily basis.  What does everyone do when stress strikes and you find yourself reaching for that tried and true food friend?  Any tips you’ve read that actually work?  By all means, share your comments below!

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