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Pet Ways to Ease Stress
with Jessica Loftus, Ph.D. & Jack Murray

Ease Dieting Stress: 7 Simple Suggestions

Stress causes obesity in many ways. Day-to-day stress increases hunger, especially for those tasty carbs, and fats that promote weight gain. Unfortunately, cutting those carbs and fats can also cause stress and increase hunger, promoting a vicious cycle of overeating. Here are tips inspired by our feathered friends.

Obesity looms as a serious health issue in the United States. In 2017, The Centers for Disease Control reported that obesity afflicts almost 40 percent of adults and nearly 20 percent of youth under age 20.  Although solutions for obesity (clean eating, food plans, healthy lifestyles) abound, Americans are getting fatter. Perhaps we can learn lessons from our feathered friends, who rarely suffer from obesity except in urban areas where they are fed human scraps.

  1. Satisfy Your Hunger

Those darling baby birds instinctively know they need to satisfy their hunger. So often, we humans ignore our hunger, which eventually leads to more stress and a junk-food binge. Eat only when you feel hungry. Eat until you are comfortably satisfied. These simple rules ease the stress caused by hunger and food deprivation.

  1. Follow a Food Plan that Works for You

We all lose weight differently. Some people lose by cutting carbs, others by cutting out meat, others by simply cutting down. Your best plan to lose weight is the one that worked best for you in the past. If you are starting your first reducing effort or if you consume a lot of refined carbs, follow this simple plan to get started.

  1. Sing Instead of Screen

Excessive screening (TV, social media, texting, gaming, online surfing) promotes inactivity and weight gain. Consider alternatives like singing, laughing or writing in a (paper) journal.

  1. Fall in Love

Ever notice how appetite and weight just disappear in the throes of a new romance? For love birds in committed relationships, recapture those feelings with quiet dates walking in the park and asking get-to-know-you questions. For single folks, get out and meet someone. If romance is not your goal, fall in love with your pets (including the baby birds in your trees) by spending quality time with them.

  1. Immerse Yourself in a Consuming Hobby

Creating, sporting, collecting, learning, and volunteering serve as effective distractions from goodies. The best way to get motivated is just to start doing something for a week. If the activity leaves you cold, start something else. Keep trying new activities until you get hooked.

  1. Work out Those Cravings

Wouldn’t it be great to fly like a bird?  Most everyone would enjoy exercising then. Find at least one exercise that you truly enjoy doing. Consider line dancing with YouTube videos, ping pong, dancing to music you enjoyed in high school, playing catch, water walking and shooting hoops in the park. That great little exercise buzz not only alleviates stress and depression but encourages healthier eating. After all, who wants to undo the exercise benefit with an unhealthy carb binge?

  1. Engage Other Senses

Our feathered friends know how to use their four other senses. When tempted to taste, indulge in breathtaking sights (photos of colorful sunsets), soul-soothing sounds (Native-American flute), decadent sensations (massage or bubble bath) and uplifting scents (like a nostalgic perfume). You may just lose your craving altogether, but if you must indulge, savor your food slowly and mindfully for a more satisfying experience.


Observing simple techniques patterned after our feathered friends in nature may help you to live a healthier lifestyle and avoid the problems associated with obesity. Who can argue with success? Left to their own instincts, those birds manage their weight effectively. We can too.


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Ease Dieting Stress: 7 Simple Suggestions

Jessica Loftus

Jessica Loftus has worked as a licensed clinical psychologist and national certified career counselor for more than 20 years. She currently offers counseling sessions via telehealth in Illinois. Her website,, outlines steps for making a career decision. details. See her retired blog, "Pet Ways to Ease Stress,"

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APA Reference
Loftus, J. (2019). Ease Dieting Stress: 7 Simple Suggestions. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Mar 2019
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