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Stress Eating & Unbearable Cravings

It's common to respond to stress by distracting yourself with your favorite comfort foods. Here are some ideas for healthier ways to cope when you're under pressure:

1. Do a preemptive strike on unhealthy eating. Keep unacceptable foods out of the house. If you know a particular food will be irresistible to you when you're stressed, make sure it is not within your grasp.

2. Keep your hands busy. Find something else to do with your hands besides eat. Keep the daily crossword handy, turn your attention to minor chores, surf the internet, or distract yourself by picking up the phone and calling your friends or family.

3. Reach for healthy snacks. If you have to eat, make sure that any foods you reach for will be healthy ones. Try crunchy vegetables like celery sticks, green-pepper strips, cauliflower buds, and broccoli florets. If you don't want them plain, dip them in hummus or an eggplant dip. Prepare these snacks ahead of time, and keep them in front of your refrigerator.

4. Avoidance! If you find it hard to stop eating something once you've started, your best bet may be to avoid the food completely. Once you give in, it's all too easy to overeat without thinking about it. Take it from me, the ultimate Peanut Butter Abuser!

It is not easy to resist cravings yet also to respond to hunger. Sometimes, it's not always easy to tell which is which.

Here are guidelines for telling the difference:

Hunger is the feeling you get when your blood sugar gradually drops; about four or five hours after a meal. It's your body's way of telling you that you're past due for your next feeding. Cravings, on the other hand, happen within a couple of hours after a meal. They occur as a result of reactive hypoglycemia; when your brain realizes your blood sugar is too-low and your body starts to crave foods that will give it a fast fix-usually a High-Glycemic carbohydrate. See http://www.aim4nutrition.com/glycemicindex.html

Reactive hypoglycemia is a vicious cycle. Once you eat a High-Glycemic carb to cure your cravings, you've set yourself up for another spike and subsequent quick drop in blood sugar-which will, in turn, make you crave more carbs. Because it may not always be possible to determine whether you are experiencing cravings or real hunger, it's best to eat consistent, regular meals and healthy snacks throughout the day. If you don't give your body the chance to be hungry, you won't be at risk of having cravings.

One thing to look out for; sugar, fat and salt can be addictive. The foods we crave usually have plenty of these ingredients. Sweet foods have almost as much salt and fat as potato chips. Salty foods such as crackers and spreads have fat and added sugar. The more you eat sugar, the more your body can tolerate it, so your body starts craving it more often to feel satisfied.

The first step to control cravings is to take unnecessary salt and sugar out of your diet. READ the ingredients list and choose simpler foods with much less salt and sugar.

Satisfy cravings with the most nutritious version of the foods you like. If you crave chocolate, pick dark chocolate. It is rich in magnesium, fiber, antioxidants and, compared to milk chocolate, it is a bit lower in sugar, fat and calories. The fat is dark chocolate does not raise cholesterol or harm blood vessels the way milk chocolate can. Have a small portion of 1.5 ounces.

Hunger is intensified too much by variety. Limit meals & snacks to one kind of food at any given time of day and you'll fill up faster on few calories. Uniform eating will help you be more successful at losing fat and will make it easy for you to food shop.

Don't starve yourself. It will eventually backfire and lead you to binge. If you are hungry, then eat. Just choose healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains

My fat loss and fitness plan "Every Body Loses" will give you the tools you need to begin a healthy fat loss program. The style of eating and exercising outlined in my book is one that you can follow for life without feeling deprived. If you're serious about losing fat and getting fit go to http://www.aim4nutrition.com and get started TODAY!

Aimee Deak
Personal Trainer & Nutrition Analyst
AIM 4 NUTRITION
http://www.aim4nutrition.com

Aimee Deak is a certified personal trainer, nutrition analyst and author of the book, "Every Body Loses", an easy-to follow, step-by-step guide to fat loss.

You can find more information about fat loss and exercise on her website http://www.aim4nutrition.com

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