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5 Stress-Eating Solutions

Does your hectic life leave you with permanently Cheetos-stained fingers? You're in good company. Women under chronic stress -- from worrying about the mortgage to having a kid behind in school -- are more likely to eat high-fat foods, feel out of control with eating, and skip meals in an (unsuccessful) attempt to manage their weight, according to recent research. The good news is that you can change automatic munching to mindful eating, says Jean L. Kristeller, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Indiana State University. How to do it:

  • Concentrate on the first few bites. Your taste buds may be satisfied after about eight to ten nibbles. After that, you're just chasing the memory of those first pleasurable bites while racking up the calories.

  • Eat at least one solo meal a week. Dining in silence allows you to practice being mindful of your physical cues of hunger and fullness. This way, you can train yourself to eat mindfully even when distracted.

  • Leave food on your plate. You'll start to realize that you don't need or want as much as you thought you did.

  • Have an ice cream cone. When you have a bad day and want a treat, let yourself have it with one condition: no guilt! Most people use food for comfort on occasion; simply include it in your day's meal plan.

  • Drop the fork. If you're starting to overeat, take a few deep breaths and check how full you are. Push your plate away, or order a doggie bag to get off autopilot.