People commonly reach for sugar in times of stress.
Stress and little time for relaxation and decompressing is a contributor to health complications. It tumbles downhill like the snowball effect, only growing larger as it continues. People commonly reach for sugar in times of stress. Cookies, pies and chocolate are some sugary foods people reach for when they are stressed. But health officials have linked chronic illnesses with the excess consumption of added sugars in foods. Scientific research suggests that mindful eating may improve health habits. By practicing mindfulness and mindful eating, individuals will better manage stress and reduce sugar intake.
But what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is a practice where individuals stop and acknowledge the moment. A person who practices mindfulness will hold a moment in time and absorb the environment around them. A simple breath, noticing the air being inhaled, feeling the lungs expand with each breath, and letting the body melt into the minute. Mindfulness helps in times of stress. It’s about being able to let go of concerns and be present in the moment. It is a good idea to take a break during work to practice being mindful – all it takes is one minute.
Why would it be important to practice mindfulness with food? Being mindful about food creates an opportunity to explore an individual’s needs. In recognizing those needs, individuals can discern a better solution than seeking out sugary treats. Mindful eating supports control over eating habits when individuals pause to acknowledge the food being consumed. Natural sugars found in fruits, milk, even dark chocolate can release dopamine (our reward and feel good center).
In order to make lifelong sustainable changes, it is important to understand that change does not happen overnight. Work has such a direct effect on our lives, it is important to prioritize health in order to be productive and happy.
Here are a few tips in taking the first steps in reducing sugar intake while practicing mindful eating:
- Make a grocery list — consider the health value of every item on the list
- Eat when you have an appetite but avoid growing too hungry. This may lead to over-eating or choosing unhealthy options
- Compare nutrition labels- 20% is considered high in a given nutrient, such as added sugars, and 5% is considered low
- Consider replacing sugar with spices — Nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon go great with coffee
- Use whole fruits- this will sweeten up oatmeal, toast, and tastes great with cereals
- Replace milk chocolate with dark chocolate- a great source of antioxidants
Try this Recipe: Energy Balls
Opt for peanut butter that has no added sugar (different from natural sugar) and add your favorite dried fruit!
Serving Size: 1 energy bite
- 1/2 cups rolled oatmeal
- 3/4 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Cinnamon (optional)
Directions: 1. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl. 2. Stir to combine. 3. If the mixture is too wet, add more oatmeal. 4. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and let stand for 10 minutes. 5. Take the bowl out of the fridge. 6. Roll the dough into 12 balls.