Tips to Help Reduce Your Stress Eating
Do you find yourself turning to high-calorie junk or comfort food when you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, sad, or otherwise emotional? Binge eating and eating when you aren’t actually hungry are a common response to stress—but not healthy ones. Keep reading to see how stopping stress eating and changing your relationship with food is in your hands.
Why Do We Stress Eat?
Today, many people are under constant stress, whether it stems from their job or their personal lives. To deal with this stress, some people may turn to eating unhealthy foods. The high sugars and fats found in junk food seem to provide relief in the short-term (that’s why they’re called “comfort foods”). Continuing to stress eat can have a negative impact on one’s health in the long-term and sabotage your own weight loss goals.
Other people have trouble controlling how much they eat due to hormone imbalances or other genetic factors.
Why You Should Stop Stress Eating
There’s no way around it—stress eating is bad for you. People who stress eat are typically eating unhealthy foods that are packed with calories. Eating too much of these kinds of food can have a big effect on your weight and other health factors, such as cholesterol and blood sugar levels. There may be an increase in one’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes, too.
Overeating when stressed can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food that can have devastating effects in the long run. Turning to unhealthy habits as a stress response also doesn’t address the underlying stress. In other words, you are not finding a way to truly relieve your stress, but instead could be making it even worse. The goal, then, should be to find ways to truly alleviate the underlying problems.
Tips to Help Stop Binge Eating When Stressed
Putting emotional stress eating in the past is a big, complicated task, but an essential one. Once you realize that you are engaging in this type of behavior, you can start to work on changing it—these tips can help you get started.
1. Address the sources of stress
First, let’s look at what is causing you to stress eat. Saying “I’m stressed” isn’t enough—look deeper to identify the specific stressors behind the way you feel. Maybe there are relationship or financial problems at home. Perhaps there’s a big project at work taking up your brain. Making a list of all the things you think and worry about each day will help you define your stress so you can start to find ways to relieve it.
Meditation, exercise, and talking with a friend are all proven ways to help you reduce stress. Some people prefer to talk to a therapist instead. These professionals can help you work through relationship concerns, career shifts, or grief, and much more. Not only may these steps help you reduce stress, but it could have a positive ripple effect across your life.
2. Treat underlying health conditions
You should also talk to your doctor see if you’re living with any underlying health conditions that could lead to stress eating. If that’s the case, they can help you get on a treatment plan for your condition.
For example, many people need help reducing feelings of hunger and controlling cravings. In this case, prescription weight loss medication may prove useful.
Prescription weight loss pills have numerous success stories from people who struggled to lose weight due to underlying health conditions. You can learn more about one of these medications by reading through answers to frequently asked questions. If weight loss pills sound like something you’re interested in, speak to your doctor to determine whether it’s right for you.
3. Eat when you’re hungry
That sounds simple enough, right? But for many people who stress eat, that’s not what occurs. The emotions of the situation can keep you from thinking clearly. If you are about to step foot into the kitchen to grab a snack, take a moment to step back and ask yourself why you are doing so. Are you really hungry? Or are you just looking for a snack because you are stress eating? Doing this every time you reach for food will help keep you mindful about what you’re putting in your body.
4. Keep healthy snacks in stock
Make your snack time count! Keeping unhealthy foods at home that you could turn to stress eat isn’t helping. The more healthy snacks you have on hand, the more likely it is that you’ll reach for those instead. That way you’ll not only avoid the high calories and sugar, you’ll get a truly filling and nutritional snack.
5. Schedule your meals
One of the ways you can control how often you eat is to create an eating schedule and stick to it. If you create a meal schedule, you know when you will be eating next. This can help you pause and recognize any uncontrolled eating as being “off limits” according to your own schedule. For people who like to have specific rules to follow, this can be an excellent way to prevent stress eating.
6. Keep a journal
Writing about what stresses you out in a journal gives you space to work through difficult thoughts and feelings. It is a good way to deter stress eating, too—recording what you eat alongside how you’re feeling can give you more insight into why you are eating. Journaling can also benefit mental health, as some people find journaling cathartic and a way to privately organize their thoughts and check in on their goals.
7. Drink plenty of water
Did you know that it can be hard for you to tell if you’re hungry or just thirsty? Drinking enough water throughout the day helps you to feel full. By staying hydrated, you can reduce your cravings and consume less unhealthy foods. If you want to keep stress eating from impacting your weight loss goals , drinking lots of water is a must.
8. Get active
Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress. It helps your body to burn off the stress hormone cortisol, relieving some of the anxiety and intensity you feel each day. Make finding a way to get active each day part of your goals. This can include going for a run or walk, taking the dog for a walk, or riding a stationary bike while catching up on reality tv shows. It’s less important how you’re moving than that you’re moving at all.
9. Focus on your meals
Overeating is easy to do when you’re eating while distracted. If sitting in front of the television during the middle of the afternoon means eating a bag of chips, then you know it is not a good habit. Are you eating while playing video games or scrolling on your phone? Instead of doing this, focus on your meals and practice mindful eating. Sit down at a table, focus on each bite of the food you’re eating, and leave all of the distractions aside.
10. Find activities you enjoy
Many people find a significant amount of improvement in the way they feel when they have exciting things to look forward to. Hobbies are a great tool for dealing with stress. When you have something enjoyable to focus on, you are spending less time focused on your stress.
Consider what type of hobby works for you, such as playing music, drawing, knitting, or engaging in any other activity. These can all be better ways for you to deal with stress than turning to junk food.
Talk to a Doctor About CONTRAVE
You may have noticed that many tips to stop eating when stressed are about addressing mental health. How you eat and your mental health are complexly intertwined. Finding ways to address your challenges with stress eating must take on both the types of food you eat and how you’re caring for your emotional well-being. Keep these tips in mind as you work to stop stress eating and transform your relationship with food.