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Fight Stress Related Eating

Stress can trigger binge eating and derail your balanced healthy eating habits. Here’s how to fight back!

A huge fight with your mom or a killer work deadline can send you straight for the cookies--that's no surprise. But now new research shows that even small annoyances, like misplacing your keys, can derail balanced healthy eating habits.

When researchers from Britain's University of Leeds tracked the habits of 422 employees, they found that women who experienced these little stressors tended to eat fewer vegetables and snack on more fattening foods throughout the day.

The reason for this stress related eating: Your body produces the hormone cortisol under pressure, which triggers cravings for high-calorie foods, explains study author Daryl O'Connor, Ph.D.

Our advice? Next time you want to nibble, choose a healthy treat--like carrots and hummus-- that'll provide the energy you need, helping you avoid bingeing, while keeping your weight in check.

Beware of these three especially surprising binge eating triggers.

Despite your best intentions to blow off steam in a healthy way--whether it's at the gym or with a moment of deep breathing--you still may not have complete control over your willpower.

Here are some reasons you may be overeating and overlooking healthy eating habits:

1. Stress related eating can happen when you’re surrounded by noise. When researchers at Pennsylvania State University had 34 women take a test in a loud room, those who weren't able to shut off the noise consumed twice as many calories later than those who could.

How to Stop Binge Eating and Tame the Tension Bring a pair of earplugs or an iPod. It will muffle the noise and help you take charge--so you'll feel less frustrated.

2. Your stress related eating can happen when you’re on a diet. Many women who are trying to slim down keep a close watch on what they can and can't eat. The outcome: They seek comfort in forbidden foods when they're under pressure.

How to Stop Binge Eating and Tame the Tension Don't deem any food off-limits. Experts suggest getting 10 percent of your calories from "fun foods," so indulge yourself every day (just watch your portions).

3. Your stress related eating can happen when you’re expecting. Pregnant women can become tired more easily, and a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found fatigued and worried mothers-to-be tended to eat more carbs and fats than their more relaxed counterparts.

How to Stop Binge Eating and Tame the Tension Snack on fruits and vegetables. The anxious women ate less produce and had lower levels of important nutrients, like vitamin C and folate.

Here’s a quick review of how to reinforce your balanced healthy eating habits!

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