Help me break up with dunkin donuts.
July 26, 2007 4:45 PM   Subscribe

I often turn to food for relief when I get stressed. I'd like to find a better way and get more control over my diet. Any suggestions?
posted by DarkForest to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Turn to exercise (or sex!) for stress relief, instead.
posted by dersins at 4:51 PM on July 26, 2007

Pretend you're going out for a "smoke break." You have to go stand outside and breathe. :) Oh, or take a shower?
posted by salvia at 4:54 PM on July 26, 2007

I often turn to boozing and smoking when I get stressed. At other times I just overtrain and don't eat. Neither are healthy.

I've just accepted that stress itself is whats bad for me. Fix the things that are bugging you. Then you can start eating healthy food.
posted by uandt at 5:00 PM on July 26, 2007

Install a chin-up bar. Seriously.
posted by saladin at 5:04 PM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have the same problem. Of course, the simplest solution (ha!) is to get rid of the stress and thus have no need to eat. But, assuming that stress is a natural part of life, that won't always work.

I have tried in the past talking myself out of eating. "This piece of cake won't get rid of X" or "I don't need this pizza to handle Y."

Another thing I have tried is focusing that desire to eat into controlling what I eat. Spend a lot of time preparing a fantastic meal and then it can be easier to eat less of it. ("This bite is so good it's worth three!")

I never have too much success with this. I'm twenty pounds heavier than I was six months ago due to the same stupid problem, so clearly my suggestions don't work for me. But, if you're good at fooling yourself, or convincing yourself, then it may help. But, I'll admit, I'm really hoping someone else has some better advice.
posted by Ms. Saint at 5:06 PM on July 26, 2007

A good, brisk walk. It gives you a new physical space to think in, it provides exercise, often gets you away from the direct souce of irritation, quiet (if that's your thing), and fresh air. It doesn't have to be a long walk. Once around the block, to the corner and back, whatever. Just get up and move.

Lifing weights works too, but I prefer walking.
posted by lekvar at 5:06 PM on July 26, 2007

nthing the various exercise suggestions. Sometimes I take a quick pace around my room, sometimes I'll drop and do some pressups, other times I'll go for a jog.

If this is in a work environment, just walk around the office, go to the water cooler, pop outside or do something equivalent.
posted by djgh at 5:58 PM on July 26, 2007

As far as a food substitution, when I'm craving something sweet I go for air-popped popcorn. The crunching and chewing of is stress relieving, and there's not too many calories. I add a little salt, as I saw somewhere that the best way to deal with a sugar craving is by eating something salty.
posted by eiramazile at 6:09 PM on July 26, 2007

I'm iattending Weight Watchers meetings, and I'm actually learning some new ways to deal with this. From their ten "Tools For Living," here are a few ideas to keep in your back pocket.


Mental Rehearsing


Positive Self Talking

posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:25 PM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm a comfort eater too. When I'm stressed I sometimes try to substitute something that has a similar texture to what I'm craving. For example, if I want to crunch through a bag of potato chips, I'll grab rice cakes or carrots instead. I also try to get some high-sensory-input foods...instead of a doughnut, I'll get something very crunchy (like cucumbers), or something very cold (like popsicles), or something very spicy (like Hot Tamales candies, which are fat free). Having a stronger sensation of chewing and eating replaces my craving for high-calorie foods. However, YMMV.
posted by christinetheslp at 7:03 PM on July 26, 2007

Not keeping food in the house (other than your next meal or two) can be a good way to remove temptation. Or if that's not practical, you can at least try to keep it out of sight or off limits. That way, you end up training yourself to deal with stress in other ways simply because you have to. Maybe you're craving food, but if you eat what's in your cupboard, you won't have anything left for dinner. With no snacking option it's less likely to niggle at the back of your mind.

But also don't starve or deprive yourself entirely, or you'll just get more stressed and eventually drive to the nearest supermarket and buy everything in the store. (Ahem, not that I speak from experience.) Try to find something relatively healthy -- at least, healthier than what you're doing now -- that scratches the same itch. For me, it's coffee or caffeine. Not the healthiest thing on the planet, but it perks you up and sure beats potato chips.
posted by quarked at 7:05 PM on July 26, 2007

I keep lots of healthy snacks in the house, too. There's great stuff now, if you haven't been looking for diet foods, you should. They have 100 calorie bags of microwave kettle corn and variety packs of popsicles/fudgesicles/50-50 bars that are splenda and 40-80 KCal. Sugarfree jello is filling, pretzels tastes junky but aren't very bad for you. Fruit, frozen fruit, pickles. Basically I can nosh all day on that stuff and still lose weight.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:06 PM on July 26, 2007

At home and in the office, I keep a large pitcher of water and glass nearby and keep the refrigerator stocked with fresh fruit. I also keep gum around. Whenever I get stressed, I reach for one of these 3. The trick is to make sure you have healthy alternatives available and nearby. With fruit, I also take the time to slowly chop it into pieces.
posted by junesix at 7:10 PM on July 26, 2007

Oh, and when you snack, just focus on what you're eating and/or drinking and do nothing else. It sounds boring but I've found that if I'm just staring down at the food and there's no distractions (computer, tv, magazine), it's much easier for me to stop myself after a few bites rather than eat the whole portion/bag/serving.
posted by junesix at 7:13 PM on July 26, 2007

Your new mantra: "Nothing tastes as good as being think feels."
posted by HotPatatta at 9:01 PM on July 26, 2007

Alton Brown's (Food Network) method of microwave popcorn is great.

Brown paper bag, stapled twice at the top - yes, stapled. I just use a sturdy toothpick through the top.

1/4 cup kernels (cheaper than micro-pops)
2 tsp. olive oil (good4u :)
1/4 tsp or so of popcorn salt

I omit the salt added before popping and shake pickling salt while eating it. Better distribution, I guess. Popcorn salt isn't at any of my locals.

I used to go for real smoke breaks.
posted by prodevel at 9:52 PM on July 26, 2007 [3 favorites]

I tried not keeping the bad snacks in the house, exercising, or chewing on a carrot stick when stressed. It doesn't work for me because what's needed is the difficult part of doing something better than getting a bag of chips or that great piece of cheesecake just 5 minute drive from your house. (and ofcourse while you're there, you pick up a can or diet coke(even if I don't drink any soda), a chocolate cupcake, a cookie, etc)

Anyway, this would be the time to think of the big picture and think in, what's good for me in the big picture and is this really the best solution.

Exercising has helped me a great deal. You start out small, 10minutes then take a warm shower then run cool water at the end. You increase the times and before you know it, your brain is happier, seriously.

Hope this helps!
posted by icollectpurses at 12:44 AM on July 27, 2007

gum is great when you are stressed out (or mad) a bunch of ferocious chomping can certainly take the edge off (watch your tongue though). Also brisk angry walking can burn off a good amount of steam, especially if the scenery is pretty, I get distracted from the stress by the surroundings.
posted by estronaut at 9:07 AM on July 27, 2007

Thanks everyone. Sounds like I need to work harder on the exercise front, use alternative/healthier foods and more water, and do things to mitigate the stress in the first place. Thanks again.
posted by DarkForest at 5:35 PM on July 27, 2007

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