A registered dietitian once gave me wonderful, realistic encouragement about dealing with my habit of stress eating. Her radical advice? Work with my habit, rather than try to completely stop it.
When I developed gestational diabetes during my second pregnancy, I was told I was at higher risk to develop diabetes later in life. The hospital’s certified diabetes educator kindly offered to meet with me – free of charge – to offer some tips on healthy eating strategies.
At our meeting, I told the dietitian that I had a habit of stress eating, then braced myself for a lecture about self discipline.
But the dietitian didn’t lecture, not one bit.
“Everyone stress eats!” she said cheerfully. “Even I stress eat.”
She suggested I learn damage control. Find satisfying nibble foods, she said. For example, she suggested that I pop a bag of light microwave popcorn every day, so I could grab a handful if I “needed” it.
Her advice has helped me for years. I’m not perfect – that’s an understatement – but I do benefit from keeping some tasty snacks around that aren’t too heavy in the carb, sugar and fat department.
Here are my current five favorites:
Light Baby Bel cheese – These mini cheese rounds, covered in red wax, are portable, packed with protein and only 50 calories each. ( I avoid the regular version, which is higher in calories and saturated fat; the reduced-fat version has the light blue wrappers.)
Cherry tomatoes – To me, these are a vast improvement over celery and carrot sticks, which bore me to tears. Cherry tomatoes are portable, easy to prep, and, unlike regular tomatoes, good varieties are available year round.
Peanut butter-filled pretzel nuggets – These pretzels come packed in a gigantic clear tub and there are several brands; my favorite is sold at the Giant Eagle stores. The pretzel nuggets are chewy, reasonable in carbs and calories (one serving is about 15 carbs and 140 calories per 10 pretzels; 1/2 a serving often is enough.) Unlike chips, the pretzels offer a hit of protein and take longer to eat – always a plus to me. They also travel very well, and are a mainstay for our road and camping trips.
Thin Addictives – I like biscotti and these lightly sweetened crackers are basically thin slivers of biscotti. Four flat cookies come in a 100-calorie, 12-14 carb serving packet, with six packets in a box. These skinny biscotti – the flavors I’ve tried are pistachio, lemon blueberry, and cranberry nut but there are many more) have saved me from many dangerous forays into heavy carb and sugar country. Like the pretzel nuggets, Thin Addictives are portable and take some time to chew, which helps with portion control.
Atomic Fireballs – These are pure sugar, but one piece really helps me out as a dessert substitute – (remember, damage control.) One fireball, which depending on size contains about 20-30 calories and 6-7 carbs, takes a long time to eat, and because it’s so darn hot I only want to eat one – which I often accompany with a big glass of cold water.