How to crave healthy food even when you’re stressed

When you’re feeling stressed out, do you reach for candy, potato chips or ice cream?

When you’re feeling stressed out, do you reach for candy, potato chips or ice cream?

It’s called stress-eating, but a little conditioning can help you choose healthier foods when you crave some comfort.

A study published last year found people who did stress-relieving exercises while eating fruit, eventually associated nibbling on the fruit with feeling more relaxed.

The study asked test subjects to do six minutes of what are called progressive muscle relaxation exercises every day.

“You just tense up your muscles for a few seconds, and then you release the tension. You keep doing that from head to toe for a few minutes at a time,” Washington Post health columnist Anahad O’Connor told WTOP.

Then, about five minutes into the exercises, the people taking part in the research were asked to eat a serving of fruit.



After one week, the test subjects began to associate eating the fruit with calming down.

“Their brains start to pair this stress reduction sensation with the fruit itself,” O’Connor said. “Eventually you just need to eat the fruit itself, and you get the stress-soothing benefits without even doing the stress reduction exercise.”

A. Janet Tomiyama, one of the study’s co-authors, is director of the Dieting, Stress and Health (DiSH) Lab at the University of California at Los Angeles.

She suggests using a fruit that you don’t eat often, such as star fruit, kiwi or mango.

Tomiyama also recommends doing the exercises in different places in your home or office, and at different times of day.

The study was published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

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How to crave healthy food even when you’re stressed