When it comes to stress these days, there’s simply no way around it. Whether it is the next covid variant, supply chain deficiencies, or a yo-yo economy, stress is here to stay. One way many of us handle anxiety is binge eating. Don’t be embarrassed, most guys I know, even the buffed, fit ones get into this habit from time to time. If you find yourself falling into a junk food frenzy or raiding the fridge late into the evening, here are some facts you should know.
First, it’s not just anxiety that causes you to binge, your hormones are also to blame. Ghrelin, which makes you hungry, and leptin, your main appetite suppressor, are eternally battling it out especially when you are under stress. The more you can bring balance and stability into your life, the better off you’ll be. Maintaining a work schedule that does not control you and balancing it with healthy exercise and pleasant socializing will keep your endocrine system in check and healthy. Getting enough quality sleep (at least 8 hours) is also an important factor that most guys forget about.
Second, portion control is essential. Giant restaurant servings make it difficult to estimate how much you are eating. As a rule of thumb, stay out of restaurants. Eat 5-6 smaller, more evenly spaced meals throughout the day and portions should be no larger than your tightly clenched fist. This way you’ll be satiated and less ravenous at day’s end.
Third, build up on your fiber. Soluble fiber expands in your GI tract and makes you feel full, so get your 25-50 grams RDA. Try a packet of oatmeal, a couple of slices of whole wheat bread, a few fists full of nuts, one cup each of broccoli, edamame and raw carrots. Get a belly full of the good stuff and you will feel less likely to scramble for the Snickers and cupcakes.
Fourth, carbs are your friends, but like friends, they have got to be the right kind and taken in moderation. Yams and even white potatoes (with skin) are seven times more filling than doughnuts or quiche. Beans, lentils, whole grains are best bets. Sorry, French fries are a “no-no” so is anything fried for that matter.
Fifth, the more lean, healthy protein you eat the more you will feel full and satisfied. Fish is better per calorie than lean beef or chicken (although you need these, too) and it also contains omega 3 fatty acids – the good fats your body needs to balance cholesterol and produce essential hormones.
Finally, deep six all junk foods. Chips, doughnuts, ice cream, sodas and all fast foods are tempting and easy ways to launch into a binge. Most of the holiday snacks at parties and gatherings are no better. If you attend functions, bring a healthy veggie tray with you. It’ll make you look like a gracious guest and give you a healthy alternative to munch on.