Post Reminders Of Your Why
When youre stressed out, its easy to lose sight of the long-term benefits of making healthy food choices because you just want to feel better ASAP. To get yourself back on track, post reminders of why you want to lose weight on your cupboards or fridge, such as a photo of the grandchildren you want to see graduate high school or the 5K route you want to tackle. These tactics can create that imperative millisecond of space and time in which you can choose not to seek comfort in food, says Rickel. Another option: Write yourself reminders on Post-It notes about how good you feel when you get through a night without stress eating.
How Common Is Stress Eating
The American Psychological Association has found that about a third of Americans respond to stress with food.
This research was done BEFORE our global pandemic.
So if you find yourself binging in response to the stress of our global pandemic, know that you are not alone here.
Our coaching clients, and the NF Coaches themselves, have all found themselves turning to food and alcohol for comfort during quarantine.
Heck, recently I mindlessly devoured an entire tub of Animal Crackers too. It was only when the bag was gone did I understand what just happened.
Many of us, even fitness experts, are prone to stress eating.
Now, dont take this as a free pass to stress eat.
If the behavior goes against your goals, its something we want to work towards improving.
But theres a reason they call it comfort food. Food can often be used to make us happier, pandemic or no-pandemic.
At the end of the day, were all emotional bags of meat on this floating hunk of space rock, and were doing the best we can.
Give yourself a bit of a break, my friend.
Youre here, youre reading, and youre trying. Thats great!
This will bring me to my last point with our handy guide:
How To Avoid Stress Eating
This article was co-authored by Klare Heston, LCSW. Klare Heston is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker based in Cleveland, Ohio. With experience in academic counseling and clinical supervision, Klare received her Master of Social Work from the Virginia Commonwealth University in 1983. She also holds a 2-Year Post-Graduate Certificate from the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, as well as certification in Family Therapy, Supervision, Mediation, and Trauma Recovery and Treatment .There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 6,152 times.
When you’re experiencing a negative emotion like stress, you may reach for food as a form of comfort or distraction. While this may work in the short term, it is just as likely to make you feel more stressed. Stress eating can cause you to gain unwanted weight, spend more than you want, and lose track of the things that make you feel good. Luckily, there are many ways to break this habit. As suggested by the Mayo Clinic, the first step is to start by paying more attention to your stress levels and eating habits.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source Remember, if you suspect you have an eating disorder, get help from a professional.
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Swap Out Comfort Foods For Nourishing Snacks
When learning how to stop stress eating, its important to keep the foods you normally turn to out of the house. Thats why identifying your emotional eating patterns, including what you eat, is so important. If you dont keep potato chips in your house, its more difficult to reach for them when youre feeling down.
Because our association between eating and comfort is so strong, however, quitting suddenly doesnt work for everyone. In order to retrain your brain, you can replace comfort foods with healthier alternatives.
TheCleveland Clinicrecommends eating foods that can actually help you cope with stress, such as antioxidant-rich green or white tea, cherries, and dark chocolate. This way, your brain still enjoys the feeling of snacking and feeling satisfied without the effects of eating high-sugar, high-sodium, and high-calorie foods.
Tackle Your Food Anxiety
Do you have tasty forbidden foods? Why do you have a forbidden food list at all? After all, no food in isolation causes weight gain.
Perhaps its because these foods are binge-eating trigger foods that cause you considerable grief and anxiety.
Gradual exposure to these foods and reintroducing them into your diet will help get rid of the anxiety around certain foods and their potential to trigger a binge.
How to do it? Create a list of your forbidden foods. Rank them in order from most forbidden to least forbidden. Slowly reintroduce the foods from the least forbidden list into your diet.
For example, if cereal is on your least forbidden food list , put a small handful of cereal in your regular breakfast smoothie. Gradually, youll realise that nothing catastrophic happens if you eat the cereal.
Youll have proven your irrational belief that eating cereal causes weight gain!
The anxiety around that food may diminish and you could start to enjoy a more rounded diet and life!
Keep it up for the other foods until theres no more anxiety. They wont be a binge eating trigger for much longer.
Remember, this will take time. Dont expect success overnight. But you will start to notice that you have less anxiety as you gradually reintroduce foods. I promise.
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Common Causes Of Emotional Eating
Stress. Ever notice how stress makes you hungry? Its not just in your mind. When stress is chronic, as it so often is in our chaotic, fast-paced world, your body produces high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and fried foodsfoods that give you a burst of energy and pleasure. The more uncontrolled stress in your life, the more likely you are to turn to food for emotional relief.
Stuffing emotions. Eating can be a way to temporarily silence or stuff down uncomfortable emotions, including anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, resentment, and shame. While youre numbing yourself with food, you can avoid the difficult emotions youd rather not feel.
Boredom or feelings of emptiness. Do you ever eat simply to give yourself something to do, to relieve boredom, or as a way to fill a void in your life? You feel unfulfilled and empty, and food is a way to occupy your mouth and your time. In the moment, it fills you up and distracts you from underlying feelings of purposelessness and dissatisfaction with your life.
Social influences. Getting together with other people for a meal is a great way to relieve stress, but it can also lead to overeating. Its easy to overindulge simply because the food is there or because everyone else is eating. You may also overeat in social situations out of nervousness. Or perhaps your family or circle of friends encourages you to overeat, and its easier to go along with the group.
Strategy #: Create A Nourishment Menu
PN Master Coach Jen Cooper uses a Precision Nutrition Coaching technique to help her clients, and even herself, deal with stress eating:
Pick a thing before the thing.
That might sound odd, but do just that: Pick an action that youll always do before you engage in stress eating .
Ideally, its multiple actionslike a menu of choices for yourself.
These actions disrupt the trigger/behavior cycle. But theres more to it than that.
I call it the nourishment menu because were deprived of so many things that nourish us on many different levels right now, says Cooper.
Examples: as much fresh air as we want, social interaction, free movement.
Food is an easy way to fill some of these voids were feeling, she says. Thats why its important to have ideas of things that can nourish you in other ways.
For example, before deciding to eat you could:
- Take three deep breaths
- Listen to a favorite song or a few minutes of a podcast
- Go for a short walk
- Spend a few minutes on housework
The most effective nourishment menus include actions that line up with your goals and values. Theyll be more likely to offer the same feeling of relief you were hopingconsciously or notto get from food.
For example, if you deeply value your close friendships, calling or texting a friend could be one of your menu options.
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Tips To Reduce Emotional Eating During Times Of Stress
The stress and disruption of the 2019 novel coronavirus disease pandemic may trigger emotional eating. Our expert offersadvice on how to maintain healthy eating habits and manage emotionaleating during this challenging time.
Combine the stress and uncertainty you may be experiencing due to the 2019 novel coronavirus disease pandemic with extreme social distancing and long stretches of time at home, and you have a recipe for emotional eating.
Emotional eating, or stress eating, is eating to suppress or soothe negative emotions. Sometimes it can become an automatic response or habit that we go to when faced with challenging feelings. Feelings that may trigger eating include sadness, frustration or fear, stress and fatigue.
Chronic mental health issues like depression or anxiety also can trigger emotional eating. And these conditions may become worse during this pandemic.
However, eating to soothe negative emotions doesnt work. Heres why.
Eating is a short-term fix. Eating may make you feel better in the very short term, but it does not address the underlying cause of your negative emotions, and it wont make them go away.
Emotional eating can actually make you feel worse. When you make unhealthy food choices or overeat, you may trigger other unpleasant emotions like shame or regret that are not productive or healthy.
Take steps to overcome emotional eating
Follow these tips to overcome stress eating and keep on track with your health.
Strategy : Develop Healthy Eating Habits
Good healthy eating habits will help you identify when you are snacking unnecessarily and help control your impulse better. This is especially important since most of us are currently still working from home, where snacks may be a lot more accessible.
- Increase water intake: A quick water break can help you reframe your mind and regulate your stress and emotions. Additionally, a cup of water will help you feel full and counter that urge to snack!
- Cook at home: Compared to eating out, home-cooked meals tend to include more fruits and vegetables which will help us stay satiated for longer periods. One of the benefits of working from home means that the time saved on commuting could go towards preparing home-cooked meals instead. For an added brain-boost, try incorporating these ingredients into your diet as well.
Should stress be too over-whelming and you have difficulties coping, speaking to a therapist or a counsellor may be a good option as well. Reach out to a qualified mental health expert anytime with Doctor Anywhere.
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How Do I Know If My Cravings Are From Emotional Stress
I like to look at cravings by whether they are coming from above the neck or below the neck. Above the neck cravings are emotional, often come on suddenly and aren’t satisfied even after a full meal. If you give in to above the neck cravings, they may sometimes trigger feelings of shame and guilt, and you may feel like you have absolutely no control over your food choices.
Below the neck cravings are not emotional, but rather a sign of physical hunger. It builds gradually and many food options sound appealing. Once you’re sensibly full, the cravings go away. Below the neck cravings aren’t associated with any feelings of guilt or anger, but rather you feel satisfied and maybe relieved after eating that particular food or meal.
Sometimes, these cravings may be hard to distinguish between. Has overeating sugary foods at night become a habit or does your body really crave them? Have you been training your body by giving in to those above the neck cravings every night to expect a surge of sugary foods, only to create almost a dependency and need for the food at a certain time of the day? Think back to when this habit started and try to practice mindful eating to be more in tune with your body and its true physical hunger needs.
Pause When Cravings Hit And Check In With Yourself
Most emotional eaters feel powerless over their food cravings. When the urge to eat hits, its all you can think about. You feel an almost unbearable tension that demands to be fed, right now! Because youve tried to resist in the past and failed, you believe that your willpower just isnt up to snuff. But the truth is that you have more power over your cravings than you think.
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Alternatives To Emotional Eating
If youre depressed or lonely, call someone who always makes you feel better, play with your dog or cat, or look at a favorite photo or cherished memento.
If youre anxious, expend your nervous energy by dancing to your favorite song, squeezing a stress ball, or taking a brisk walk.
If youre exhausted, treat yourself with a hot cup of tea, take a bath, light some scented candles, or wrap yourself in a warm blanket.
If youre bored, read a good book, watch a comedy show, explore the outdoors, or turn to an activity you enjoy .
Satisfy Craving With Healthy Snack
Satisfying my cravings with something healthy is my last resort strategy. I usually dont crave anything in particular, so I typically go for veggies, protein shakes, almonds, or fruit to scratch that itch.
If youre craving something sweet, try eating some fruit. If you have a taste for something crunchy, perhaps carrots dipped in hummus will do the trick if youre longing for a salty snack, veggie chips to the rescue.
No matter what youre craving, there is a healthy option out there to fill that void. It may take some time to find the right thing to replace your go-to snacks, but you will find something if you have an open mind.
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Maintain A Healthy Meal Schedule
You shouldnt change your normal eating schedule just because youre stuck at home. If youre used to having three meals a day, try to continue that schedule while youre working from home. The same goes for if you typically consume only two meals and a snack.
Though its easy to stray from your normal dietary pattern when your day-to-day schedule gets disrupted, its important to maintain some semblance of normalcy when it comes to eating.
You may find yourself adapting your eating pattern to accommodate your new normal, and thats OK. Just try to maintain a regular eating pattern based on your individual needs and your preferred eating times.
If youre really thrown off and find yourself constantly snacking, try making a schedule that includes at least two solid meals per day and following it until you feel that you have become comfortably consistent with your eating habits.
Signs You Are A Stress Eater: How To Stop
People eat for many reasons besides hunger. Many emotions can trigger cravings, and stress is one of the most common. Stress eating is not a healthy practice, as it often leads to overeating, as well as snacking on unhealthy foods.
Since this can lead to both weight gain and health problems, it can cause even more stress, feeding the vicious cycle. The best way to break this cycle is to become aware of your triggers, and deal with them as they arise.
The following are seven signs you are a stress eater, and some ways to stop.
1. You eat when you are not hungry. Do you find yourself reaching for snack foods when your belly is already at capacity? Maybe you had a big breakfast, but an intense morning meeting has you running to the office vending machine before 10 am. If this is you, make a mental note of how you are feeling when you get these cravings are you anxious?
STOP IT! Next time your stress sends you searching for a snack on a full stomach, try chewing on some peppermint leaves or cardamom seeds instead. It may also help to drink a glass of water, and get up for a few minutes and take a walk, until your stress passes.
2. When you are facing a deadline, or a stressful event, you immediately think of having a snack. If the anticipation of something important or frightening coming up sends you straight to the fridge, it is likely you are eating from a source of anxiety.
If it is, try and stick to it and eat only what youve planned out.
-The Alternative Daily
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Build In Time To Stop & Relax
I often hear my clients say Come on, how on earth will I be able to make time for myself when I have so much to do? and I always reply, if you dont look after yourself you wont have the reserves to take care of all the other people in your life you take care of. When our reserves are low were cranky, overly sensitive and generally not as happy as we want to be. So please take some time each day, even if it only 10 minutes, to relax.
- Have a warm bath as this will help your body reach a temperature thats ideal for rest.
- Writing to do lists for the next day can organize your thoughts and clear your mind of any worrying thoughts that pop in to your head
- Relaxation exercises, such as light yoga stretches, help to relax the muscles. Dont exercise vigorously though, as it will have the opposite effect.
- Relaxation CDs can help as they use a hypnotic voice to guide you through muscle relaxation and soothing music and sound effects to relax your brain.
- Watching TV or any computer or phone screen keeps the brain engaged and active so it is harder to fall asleep. It is better to read a book or listen to the radio as that relaxes the mind by distracting it from the present worries.