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2 local doctors give tips and tricks to avoid stress eating

Young woman eating
Posted at 8:31 AM, Sep 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 08:31:02-04

CLEVELAND — With COVID-19 numbers rising yet again and all the happenings of life, stress happens too, and many of us look for comfort in food.

We asked two local doctors for the best ways to avoid stress eating that are both realistic and rewarding.

"When we're stressed, we want to find some pleasure, and eating gives us those sensory pleasures," said Dr. Sheerli Ratner, a psychologist at MetroHealth.

She says first, identify triggers and plan ahead; have healthy snacks ready when you know you'll encounter your stressors.

Second, practice mindful eating; think about where your food comes from, how it's made and how it fuels your body.

"That replenishes us, reduces stress, and brings us to the present moment," said Ratner.

And third, say goodbye to the guilt; practice self-compassion and keep trying.

"Some people say that you have to engage in a behavior for 21 days, but we've also shown that you can change a habit in as little as three to four days," she said.

"I often have people keep a food journal, along with thoughts, and look at the pattern of their eating," said Dr. David Creel, a registered dietician and psychologist at Cleveland Clinic.

He says first, understanding the factors that lead to stress eating is important.

"That may be your sleep patterns, not skipping meals, making sure you're exercising regularly," he said.

Second, develop healthy routines and identify pleasurable distractions.

"Like listening to music,” he said. “Or, some people might do something with their hands like knit.”

Ratner suggests grabbing a sudoku or crossword puzzle which she says is a healthy brain distraction.

However, if it all feels like too much, both say don't be afraid to reach out for help.

"What we need to do is to transform this pain that the outside is causing us in here, is transform it into an opportunity to strengthen our core," said Ratner.

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