2. Don't Skip Meals
It may sound counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to reduce overeating or stress eating is to be sure you are regularly eating balanced meals and not skipping meals (which can lead to you feeling overly hungry).
We recommend that you aim for three meals a day, along with one or two snacks, if needed.
Nutritionist Tip: Include a lean protein, a complex carb, healthy fats and lots of fruits and veggies at mealtime. Generally speaking, the more colors on your plate, the better!
3. Listen to Your Body's Cues
Paying attention to what your body is telling you is essential, especially when it comes to hunger and fullness cues. Keep in mind, hunger may not always appear with a growling stomach - you may instead notice that you are:
- Extra tired
- Have low energy
- Feel cranky
- Have a headache
Nutritionist Tip: Utilize the hunger/fullness scale, which helps you to tune into your body. Try using a scale from 1 to 10 to determine your level of hunger and fullness, with 1 being painfully hungry, 5 being neutral, and 10 being painfully full.
Try not to let your hunger drop to a 1 or 2 on that scale. Take time to enjoy foods when eating and check in with yourself during a meal to see how you are feeling. Stop eating when you are a 5 or 6 on the scale.
4. Choose Your Snacks Wisely
When picking a snack, always try to include a protein, carb, and healthy fat, which will help satisfy your hunger for a longer period of time and avoid a sugar crash. Here are some of my favorite snack ideas:
- Hummus with veggies (or try chocolate hummus with strawberries)
- Plain yogurt with fruit and nuts
- Veggies with yogurt-based dip
- Nut butter bites with dark chocolate chips and dried fruit or seeds
Nutritionist Tip: Plan ahead! Make sure to pack snacks to bring to work or for the commute home so you don't get stuck without a healthy snack on hand.
5. Don't Assign Morality to Foods
Try not to label foods as “bad” or restrict certain foods – this can cause overeating or shame, which are counterproductive to your overall goals when it comes to nutrition.
Instead of restricting specific foods, focus instead on getting enough energy and nutrients from your meals and snacks, staying hydrated, and avoiding assigning moral value (good or bad) to food in general. Everything in moderation!
6. Keep a Journal
Start a journal documenting the various emotions you experience before stress eating occurs to determine if there is a pattern. This can be helpful because it allows you the space to recognize what you're feeling, then take a pause and try other techniques to manage that emotion instead of eating.
7. Prioritize Good Sleep
A good night's sleep is important, and not just for cognitive function and other processes in the body. Did you know that a lack of sleep can actually increase hunger hormones, causing you to intake a higher amount of calories during the day?
Some ways to improve your "sleep hygiene" include going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, shutting off phones and TVs an hour before sleeping (try a book instead), and setting up rituals or routines to signal bedtime is coming for your brain and body.
8. Find Ways to Manage Stress
Create your very own stress management "toolkit" with some go-to coping strategies. The following are some of our most frequently recommended strategies and ideas:
- Include exercise or intentional movement each day
- Find JOY in movement - try yoga, dancing, or hiking
- Try meditation or journaling
- Call a friend or family member that you know will provide support
- If you enjoy cooking or baking, prep balanced meals or snacks to have available
Take Advantage of Support From Experts
If you are struggling with emotional eating, feeling unsure of what modifications to make to your diet or lifestyle while trying to conceive, or simply need a "reset" on your nutrition, we encourage you to reach out to your Patient Navigator to set up a nutrition consult with me or Jill Hickey.
In addition, take advantage of the holistic support offerings available to you through Illume Fertility's Integrated Fertility & Wellness program!
Besides nutrition counseling, we offer fertility acupuncture, free support groups and yoga classes, and connections to individual or couples' counselors who specialize in therapy focused on fertility and family-building. %MCEPASTEBIN%