I have gotten a lot of questions recently about stress eating + if I have any tips to help stop or curb it from happening.
Yes! There are many little tips + tricks you can use to take control of your eating habits, especially when they revolve around your emotions.
I mean, who doesn’t LOVE to eat their favorite things when they’re worried + anxious about something? We all do.
I do want to note right away that if you have deep-rooted emotional troubles, the best way to confront stress eating is to see a doctor/therapist, which I am not.
The tips + strategies I am going to give today are for the everyday woman struggling with reaching for their favorite unhealthy treats when life just gets to be a bit too stressful.
In this blog post, I am going to touch upon:
- What is stress eating?
- Strategies to prevent stress eating from happening
- Strategies to curb stress eating in the moment
What is stress eating?
Stress eating is a way that people cope with their feelings to get a bit of temporary relief. But, that’s the thing that stinks. It really only makes us feel good in the moment. Then, we feel like garbage for either overeating or having a snack that is super high in unhealthy fats + sugars.
For a moment, we get to escape the reality of the things in life that are challenging + difficult that we really should be facing head-on. We think that food is going to soothe negative feelings, guilt, + shame. It never works. But, many of us get stuck in this cycle of stress eating.
Our bodies are almost “tricked” into being hungry when we are stressed. Stress causes the stress hormone cortisol to be released in our bodies, which tell our bodies that it’s time to eat something [even if you’re not even hungry! What the heck!?].
It would be one thing if we craved healthy fruits + veggies. But, we all know our favorite sweets we love to grab for when our emotions are at an all-time high [i.e. fried foods, chips, candy, cookies, etc].
Not only are all of these foods unhealthy for our bodies, but if you continuously stress eat, it begins to affect your weight + how your clothes fit.
Before going over how to deal with the feelings of wanting to stress eat in the moment, I want to give you specific preventative habits you can adopt to lessen the number of times feelings of stress eating even occurs in the first place.
Strategies to Prevent Stress Eating
Adopt Stress-Relieving Habits
The biggest tip I can give you in this entire article is to make sure you’re dealing with your emotions using daily/weekly activities that put your mind at ease.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep each night! Without proper rest, your body feels hungrier than it should + your brain doesn’t work as well when obstacles are thrown at you throughout the day, causing stress. So, this should be a #1 priority.
- Related: HOW TO MAKE JOURNALING A HABIT
Limit Tempting Foods
What are your favorite unhealthy foods to grab when feeling stressed out? Be mindful of those + limit them in your everyday environment (your house, car, work desk, etc).
That doesn’t mean you should never be able to have them! You know yourself best. If you know having your tempting foods readily available will cause you to spiral, don’t have them around at all. Out of sight, out of mind!
TIP: If you still want to enjoy them once in a while, maybe only buy enough to indulge once or twice a week (i.e. instead of buying a family size bag of chips, buy 2 snack-size bags to keep in your house. When both are gone, no more till next week!).
- Related: 12 HEALTHY FOOD SHOPPING TIPS
Focus on Creating a Healthy Diet
A great way to prevent stress eating is to do your best to make sure you’re eating healthy 80%+ of the time. Then, when you have those moments where you do indulge in your favorite unhealthy treats, you don’t feel like you’re going to fall off-track.
Focus on creating a less processed diet [fake ingredients] + a diet that includes mostly real, whole foods. You will find that your taste buds will change + that those processed snacks will be less of a drool-worthy factor when stress comes on.
Have a Clear Plan
We all have heard the saying that “the best offense is defense.” That definitely applies here. No matter who you are, what habits you have, + what your diet is, you will have moments where you will want to stress eat. You’re only human!
So, it’s important to have a clear, step-by-step plan outlined to deal with the oncoming feelings. Steps to take to assess how you’re feeling + to stop the spiral from happening.
- Related: 4 STEPS TO GET BACK ON-TRACK
Below, I am going to outline some strategies you can use to create a clear plan for when you’re triggered to stress eat.
Strategies to Curb Stress Eating in the Moment
You can use the list below as your “plan” or create your own where you add/omit things that help you, personally!
Drink a tall glass of water
A lot of times when we all of a sudden get really hungry [even though we just ate an an hour or two ago] it might mean you are dehydrated. Ask yourself: have you drank enough water today? [I recommend drinking half your body weight in water/day + maintaining light lemonade colored pee]. Drink a tall glass of water (or 2), wait a bit, + see if that does the trick. Click HERE for my water drinking hacks.
Move Your Body
If the weather/time of day is good, get outside in the fresh air. Go for a walk! You can even walk a bit on the treadmill, dance a little, do some gentle stretching/yoga, or even a short workout. You may just be bored + need to get your body moving. Click HERE for my hacks for getting more steps every day!
Do 1-2 Stress Relieving Activities
Read a chapter of a self-help book, call a friend you trust to talk through your emotions/find solutions, journal, meditate, etc. Sometimes these things are just what you need to sort through what you’re feeling.
Still hungry? Eat Something From Your “Go-To” List
If you’re still hungry, you may just need to have a bite to eat. Have maybe 2-5 different healthy options of HEALTHY snacks/foods you can pick from [i.e. whole wheat crackers + cheese, apples + peanut butter, greek yogurt + berries, etc]. Keep a list on your fridge of these to help remind you of the healthy foods in your kitchen! Click HERE for 100 healthy snack ideas.
*Please note that I am NOT a doctor or therapist. If you have deep-rooted emotional + stress eating issues, you should seek professional help.