Stress eating—it happens to the best of us. Between answering seemingly endless emails from vendors and playing seating chart Tetris, it can be tough not to end up elbow deep inside a bag of potato chips. But that emotional eating "doesn't have to be inevitable," swears New York City-based dietitian Brigitte Zeitlin. Simply take a deep breath, step away from the snacks, and follow this checklist to be both stress-free and on top of your pre-wedding wellness regimen.
Have a plan.
Your organizational skills are already finely tuned, so apply them to your diet. Zeitlin, owner of BZ Nutrition, suggests prepping lunches and dinners on Sunday nights and stocking your desk, purse, and gym bag with healthy snacks. "Being prepared will give you more control during the day, which will help squash stress," explains the pro. "Plus being armed with healthy meals and snacks will stop you from making impulsive choices.
Fill up on water.
There's a reason drinking plenty of H20 (roughly 8 to 10 glasses a day) is a tried-and-true trick. People often mistake their thirst for hunger, which can lead to overeating. If you're not a fan of the tasteless sip, suggests L.A. nutritionist Elissa Goodman, try spicing it up with fresh fruit and herbs: "A few of my favorite combos are strawberry and basil or mint and watermelon."
Keep calm and snack on mood-lifters.
Whole grains are known to boost serotonin levels (translation: that hormone that leaves you feeling good); the omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, chia seeds, and walnuts can help fight anxiety; and nut butters are high in magnesium and zinc, which aid your brain in regulating emotional and physical stress. Other mood-boosters to try: avocados, citrus, and matcha.
With an ounce of dark chocolate a day, that is. Studies have shown the treat can release serotonin and combat the release of stress hormone cortisol, says Zeitlin. Just make sure to reach for a variety that has a least 70 percent cocoa. Any less and it's apt to be packed with sugar.
Indulge in comfort foods.
Well, healthy versions of them. Goodman, author of Cancer Hacks, advises cooking and mashing cauliflower for a creamy potato or rice substitute. You could also try heating a batch of gluten-free oatmeal or snacking on almonds for that satisfying chip-like crunch.
Sweat it out.
Whether you prefer running, spinning, rowing, or a sweaty yoga class, "nothing clears the mind quite like a sweat session," says Zeitlin. For an added benefit, work it out with a pal so you can vent about your latest wedding dilemma.
Try an adaptogen.
The herbs are supposed to help the body manage stress. Two of the best options for bride, says Goodman, are holy basil and ashwagandha.
Hit the sheets.
Studies have linked a lack of sleep with increased stress levels, notes Zeitlin: "Not getting enough sleep is the quickest way to feel stressed, become overwhelmed, and overeat." To avoid reaching for the nearest candy, she advises, aim for seven to eight hours a night.
Find your zen.
Indulging in daily meditation or yoga sessions can make a huge difference, swears Goodman. "They teach you to step back and be mindful rather than just acting on impulse," she explains. Commit to just five minutes of daily meditation or scan YouTube for a 15-minute yoga flow, says the pro, "It can be a game changer!"