How To Get Rid of Stress Eating
Everyone has found themselves stress eating at one point or another. The reality is that most of the times, it feels better to eat your favorite comfort food than deal with your anxious thoughts. While this feels great at the moment, at the end, you’ll find yourself in a food coma with unresolved problems. The emotional eating itself isn’t the main problem, but rather the things that follow. You’ll end up experiencing food guilt, additional stress and even physical discomfort.
Eliminating stress eating isn’t easy, but with a little help, it’s doable. We’re giving you the things to do when you’re stress eating that has proven to be successful for nutrition pros.
Here are the things to do when stress eating:
Make an effort to plan every meal and snack
If you’re experiencing stressful days, make an effort to have scheduled meals and snacks on those days. Planning to eat your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks will keep you from mindlessly eating just because you’re feeling pressured.
Do a brain to belly scan
The best way to prevent emotional eating is to stop and check with your brain and body to see what’s been causing your hunger.
- Start with your brain: What kind of thoughts are you having? Do you find yourself eating even when you’re not hungry? If the answer is yes, don’t be too hard on yourself because it happens to everyone. Are you eating because you’re frustrated and anxious?
- Consider our emotions: What kind of mood are you in?
- Throat and stomach: Did you drink enough water? When was the last time you ate?
“Stopping and processing emotions before or during a nibble marathon can be the first step to intuitive eating enlightenment when you’re feeling cagey,” says Monica Auslender Moreno, RD, a nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition.
Keep your mouth busy
Sometimes, even after your long stress-relieving walk, you still find yourself nervous and wanting to eat, although you don’t feel a physiological hunger. Instead of grabbing your go-to stress snack, drink a cup of tea or chew a gum. Sometimes the sensation of putting something in your mouth will satisfy and calm your mind.
Don’t cut back on water and sleep
Sometimes people confuse being tired or dehydration with food craving. When you’re thirsty, your body will start relying on the stored sugar for energy and you’ll feel the need to eat something sweet, when in fact, all you need is water. Also, when you’re tired, you’ll grab an energy drink or some food, when in fact all you need is a good sleep. Make sure you drink enough water and get enough sleep.
Enjoy your snack- purposefully
If you turn to snacks in order to relieve stress, take a mini time out to experience a moment of honesty with yourself. Take a few deep breaths and try to discover what are those feelings that are making you stress eat.
Locate the source of your stress and take a moment to relax your body
When you start feeling bad, try to articulate what the feeling is: for instance, you might feel worried about all that you have to get done over the weekend, or you might feel insecure about your performance in school.
Choose a different, healthy distraction
Stress eating is a way to distract yourself from stress. When you are feeling stressed and you find yourself reaching for a snack, give yourself a different kind of treat. You might watch a cartoon, take a bath, read a chapter in a book, call an old friend, do deep breathing exercises, or go for a walk.
Engage in at least one stress-reducing activity every day
Schedule regular activities that relieve your stress. Notice what parts of your day make you feel happy, light, and carefree. You might find that you relax around some of your friends, or that hitting the gym gives you a rush.
Identify your triggers
For a few weeks, until you notice a pattern, keep a running list of the times, places, and circumstances in which you stress eat. Write down what time it is, where you are, who you are with, and what happened when you started feeling the urge to eat from stress.
Ask yourself if you are actually hungry before you eat
If you just feel like you want to eat, but you aren’t actually experiencing hunger, don’t eat. This can be harder than it sounds! If you are in the habit of stress eating, you might not have a good sense of how hunger feels.
Eat sit-down meals
Walking around and snacking will make it easy for you to forget what you are doing, leading to stress eating. Plan your meals ahead of time so that you aren’t deciding what to eat when you’re hungry. Eat full meals with foods from all food groups. Don’t substitute snacks or sweets for meals.
Pay attention to every bite
Look at your food, smell it, and notice its flavor. Stress eating ruins your enjoyment of your meal. If you focus on your meal, you are more likely to enjoy it, and more likely to notice when you are full.
Don’t do anything else while you eat
If you want to watch TV, check your phone, or read, do it after your eating is done. If you can’t stand eating in silence, try chatting with others, admiring a view, or listening to music. However, if you find yourself getting absorbed in these activities, stop them and pay attention to your food instead.
Eat foods you enjoy
If you’re trying to be mindful of your diet, it’s easy to go overboard and plan only healthy meals. Don’t fall into the trap of eating the same food over and over, never eating treats, or giving up all your favorites. If you do this, you’re more likely to go overboard when you’re stressed.
Keep trigger foods out of your house
If you notice that certain foods trigger your desire to binge eat, keep them out of the house. Try to avoid them completely. If you crave something, allow yourself to visit a restaurant where you can order a single serving of it.