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Eustress versus Distress

Stress is both good and bad depending on the source, length of exposure and our reaction (positive or negative). Different situations and life events can cause stress. On the one hand, good stress, eustress, motivates us to action and stimulates us in good ways.

Eustress leads to excitement and anticipation. Life changes, small challenges and new experiences often cause short-term eustress. Examples of situations inciting eustress include being in a new relationship, trying a new workout or physical challenge, starting a new project or job at work. Though similar in physical reaction to chronic, overwhelming stress (initially), eustress typically incites positive change or growth as a result. It’s good for us, improving resiliency and giving life purpose.

Chronic, overwhelming stress from negative situations is not so healthy. It can be persistent, long-lasting and emotionally draining versus energizing. Difficult situations may cause excessive worry. It’s important to do what you can to control this type of stress, even if it’s by reframing the issue or changing how you respond to the situation. Click here for stress management strategies. One way to change your mindset is to change how you think of a stressor. Thinking of it as a challenge versus a threat can make a big difference in your attitude and approach.




Tips to avoid late-night snacking

An important weight management tip is to eat when you we feel true, physiological hunger. Eating when not truly hungry can lead to excess calories and weight gain. Excessive snacking before bedtime and/or late at night, in particular, can become a bad habit. It can be a ‘go to’ behavior to distract us when we are experiencing uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings, such as frustration, anger, fear and boredom. Even excess stress and exhaustion can play a role in night-time eating. Here are some tips to limit mindless eating at night:

Eat well during the day: Aim to consume regular, well balanced meals with a wide variety of foods. Take time to plan your meals and snacks. Listen to your body and stay fueled throughout the day, according to your hunger levels.

Include fiber-rich foods: Few Americans eat enough of fiber-rich foods. Fiber, found in plant foods, promotes digestive and heart health and keeps you feeling fuller longer. Whole grains, fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds and legumes are fiber-rich. The more fiber you eat, the more important it is to drink plenty of water.

Don’t skimp on protein and overdo processed carbs: Noshing on processed carbs all day, such as crackers, white bread, granola bars, sugary cereals, sweets, pastries, and chips, for example, doesn’t provide your body with what it needs for optimum performance. Stick with healthier carb choices, such as fruit, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Pair these foods with a source of protein, such as a hard-boiled egg, Greek yogurt, nut butter, cottage cheese, hummus, tuna, etc.

Think twice before taking a bite: what are you really feeling? Is it true hunger or are you anxious, bored, frustrated or tired? What other activities and behaviors would satisfy you? Consider calling a friend to chat, playing a game, going for a walk, taking a relaxing shower or bath, reading, etc.

Go to bed earlier: if you are eating out of boredom or as a compliment to late-night television, consider an earlier bedtime. Sleep is important for weight control. Inadequate sleep can interfere with efficient carbohydrate metabolism, increase fat storage and hunger.

If you are truly hungry, eat a healthy balanced snack, such as yogurt with fruit, oatmeal with raisins and nuts, 1/2 small turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread or a slice of whole wheat toast spread with peanut butter or low-fat ricotta cheese and a dab of honey or jam. Keep your portions small and avoid distractions while eating.