NxJ’er asks: How do I stop myself from eating crap?

There is a four-letter word that can put mindless eating to shame.

HALT before the first bite

Stop yourself by saying the word, “HALT!”  Halt is an acronym that will help discover the reasons why you might be turning toward food. Halt stands for the following:

H = Hungry

Before biting into the food, ask yourself: “Am I really hungry?” It may be that you haven’t had food in over five hours and are feeling ravenous because your body needs the calories. On the other hand, reaching for food if you are not physically hungry means that you are about to eat for a different purpose.

A = Anxious or Angry

Stress has a significant impact upon appetite. Ask yourself if you are feeling upset, stressed or anxious about something. What are the problems or anxieties that you would prefer erasing with food?

If you are anxious, the best thing to do is to try some breathing and relaxation techniques.  After you have taken at least 10 minutes to de-stress, ask yourself again if you are in the mood for “x” treat.  If so . . .

L = Lonely

Loneliness can cause people to turn toward food. Because food is pleasurable and contains properties that increase the “feel-good hormone” serotonin in the brain, many people find that food is physically comforting and oftentimes, a distraction from feeling lonely. When you feel the urge coming on, ask yourself if you are feeling alone.  It might also be that you are not necessarily lonely, but that no one understands what you are going through.  Ask what you can do besides eating?

T = Tired

Sometimes, people confuse tiredness for hunger. This is because sleep deprivation leads to changes in specific hormones that control appetite. According to the American College of Physicians, adequate sleep helps regulate appetite through the two hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin decreases hunger, which means that you are less hungry when leptin levels are high. Ghrelin increases hunger, which means that you will feel hungry when ghrelin levels are high.

With sleep deprivation, ghrelin and leptin levels are altered and they increase appetite, according to the results of a brief randomized study published in the 2004 Annals of Internal Medicine. This is good news. By getting adequate sleep (at least 7-9 hours per night), you can help better control your appetite!

The bottom line is to know if you are hungry or simply tired. Try to do relaxation exercises; if you need more rest after deep breathing or a nap, then you are probably tired and should sleep!

Tips & Advice
What can you do instead of chowing down?

  • Go to the gym
  • Talk to your fellow NxJ’ers
  • Bother Marissa or Nadia
  • Get some fresh air and take a walk
  • Read the other Daily Health Briefings
  • Listen to music
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