"Women today are more anxious than ever because we're constantly being given the message that the more we do, the better our lives will be," says Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., a psychologist and the director of Cincinnati Psychotherapy Institute. "As a result, we run around nonstop and take on too much." A survey by the Pew Research Center, a public opinion polling and social science research facility in Washington, D.C., found that 21 percent of people who frequently feel stressed say they often overeat, and another 25 percent say they tend to binge on junk food.
It's easier said than done, but try doing other things when the stress-triggered urge to eat hits: Put on your sneakers and walk around the block, dig in the garden, or think about an upcoming vacation—anything that gives you pleasure. "You have to have other things to look forward to besides food," Kearney-Cooke says. That said, if it's time for a snack, you'll need to choose the right munchies. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that you can boost serotonin, the body's feel-good, stay-calm hormone, by having a starchy nibble. Your best picks include vegetarian sushi rolls, rice cakes, a baked sweet potato, or a handful of soy chips.
Pick up Shape's special Make Over Your Body issue for complete details about this 21-day plan. On newsstands now!