Thursday, February 2, 2023

What To Do Instead Of Stress Eating

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Emotional Eating Help Tip #1: What to Do Instead of Overeating

Resist grabbing a whole bag of chips or other food to snack on. Measuring out portions and choosing small plates to help with portion control are mindful eating habits to work on developing.

Once youve finished one helping, give yourself time before going back for a second. You may even want to try another stress-relieving technique, like deep breathing, in the meantime.

Ways To Change Up Your Strategy

Emotional eating can include all types of eating including eating for celebration, eating as a form of procrastination, eating out of boredom, stress, or eating to help soothe an underlying emotion such as loneliness or anger.

When people come to me, they are not usually worried about their eating in celebration! Most of the people who come to a dietitian for help with their emotional eating are struggling with how often or how intense they feel their eating is as a result of boredom or strong feelings.

The thing about emotional eating is that it is not bad! However, it can be problematic or troublesome if it is the only way we cope with challenging emotions. Our goal in bringing awareness to our eating behaviours and to help discover what to do instead of emotional eating.

How Does Stress Affect Your Appetite

Studies show that women with high chronic stress levels tend to engage in emotional eating. In addition to psychological responses to stress, there may also be physiological responses. During a stressful event, the body releases cortisol, a hormone that helps the body protect itself. However, if cortisol levels are elevated for a prolonged period of time, such as during repeated and constant stressors, this can lead to increased food consumption, fat storage and weight gain.

Read Also: How To Stop Stressing So Much

Find Other Ways To Cope With Stress

Discovering another way to deal with negative emotions is often the first step toward overcoming emotional eating. This could mean writing in a journal, reading a book, or finding a few minutes to otherwise relax and decompress from the day.

It takes time to shift your mindset from reaching for food to engaging in other forms of stress relief, so experiment with a variety of activities to find what works for you.

How To Tell If Youre Stress Eating

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While some people purposely and consciously dive into a pint of ice cream after a trying day, others may stress eat without even knowing it, Knott says. People get on autopilot, she says. It becomes part of our lives, and we dont necessarily recognize what is happening.

To avoid mindless eating, its important to understand the difference between emotional and physical hunger. Before you tear open a bag of chips, take stock of how youre feeling physically and mentally, Knott says. Hunger feels different for everybody, but its often accompanied by physical symptoms like a growling or empty stomach, low energy and headache. If youre craving snacks without any of these physical signs, you may simply be looking for comfort or a distraction, Knott says.

If you arent truly hungry and it is a comfort food type of response, or a way to manage the stress that is related to using food to soothe, then you might want to take a different approach, Knott says.

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Slowing Down When You’re Stressed

  • 1Locate 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.
  • Notice where you feel stress. Try relaxing those parts of your body: your shoulders, your hands, your haunches. Breathe out your stress. Rather than suppressing the feeling, try calmly letting go of it. Breathe deep and focus on your body instead. Think about your senses: what can you see, smell, hear, and feel?XResearch source
  • Remind yourself that feelings are feelings, no more and no less. Once you know what the feeling is, you can decide what you need to do about it. You may just need to wait it out.
  • Alternatively, you could try to de-emphasize your negative feelings.
  • 2Choose 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.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source
  • Write a list of different treats you can give yourself, and keep it pinned somewhere you often get triggered. For instance, on the fridge, or by your desk.
  • Things To Do Instead Of Binge Eating

    I hear the term binge eating” thrown around alot. While Im not a fan of any label, I think what many people mean is they sometimes eat without being hungry and for other reasons like stress to help soothe. But guess what? Bingeing on comfort foods is proven to NOT lead to happiness.

    Because if you emotionally eat, binge eat or whatever term you choose to use,you know that most often you do not feel happy after.In fact, you may feel worse.

    Emotionally eating doesn’t have to be bad. Sometimes we eat because we are happy while celebrating special occasion and want to cheers with champagne or eat a piece of cake on a birthday. Other times we may be upset or stressed and want to munch on our favorite chips just because its a coping mechanism. If anytime you eat for reasons other than physical hunger you end up feeling guilty and ashamed. Isn’t that worse for your body than the eating itself? Shame creates a stress response and causes physical side effects that can affect your digestion and sleep, increase inflammation, lead to infections and more. Plus, you’ll likely stay trapped in the vicious emotional eating cycle: You feel guilty and ashamed for emotional eating, so you continue to emotionally eat.


    1.)Call a friend, your sponsor, a support person, anyone who you can talk to who will either get your mind off of food, or someone to talk to about whatever it is that you might be feeling.2.)Go for a walk

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    Things You Can Do Instead Of Eating Mindlessly

    Must. Pin. ASAP.

    Drink a glass of water, talk with a friend, kiss someone, scream. There are a lot of things you can do when you’re tempted to fill your pie hole with, well, pie.

    In fact, Michelle May, M.D., founder of the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Programs and Training and author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, has rounded up these and 96 other suggestions to come up with a list of 100 things to do other than eat.

    But the list isn’t about not eating it’s about not eating when you’re not actually hungryand about finding a more productive way to deal with cravings that aren’t based in the physical need for sustenance, says May.

    RELATED: 8 Tips That Make it Easier to Stop Eating When You’re Full

    “For a lot of people, eating becomes a way of dealing with boredom, dealing with not wanting to do something, dealing with uncomfortable emotions,” she says. “When we have a repertoire of ways to take care of ourselves other than eating, we become more focused on meeting our true needs. It’s about redirecting your attention away from food and onto something else until you actually become hungry.”

    RELATED: The Best Way to Tell If You’re ACTUALLY Hungry

    “Suffice it to say there are a million and one things you can do besides eat,” May says. Here are 100 to start.

    Unfortunately Food Is Not Always The Answer

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    Whenever I have to stay up late studying, nothing sounds better than indulging in some sugary snacks to keep me company. That brownie or those hot cheetos may seem extra comforting under times of stress, but eating unhealthy food usually only makes you feel worse. One way you can determine if you are actually hungry or just stress eating is using the broccoli test. If you would not eat broccoli at that moment, then you probably are not actually hungry. After doing some research, I found 5 easy but helpful things you can do when you feel like you want to stress eat:

    Read Also: How To Combat Stress Hormones

    Hidden Implications Of Emotional Eating

    Say you feel upset all of a sudden. Youre not sure how or why, but you know pie will make you feel better. You reach out for a piece of apple pie in the fridge, and you tuck in.

    As you eat, you feel happy. You savor the taste of the apple pie in between bites. You think about how wonderful it is to be eating this pie and how lucky you are to be able to consume this food. And after you are done, you feel all better.

    With a renewed focus and more positive state of mind, you then get on with your plans for the day.

    Whats wrong with this scenario? It may look like nothings wrong and might well be a common occurrence in your daily life. You might even point out that, Hey! Food has served such a positive role here! Whats with all this nonsensical rubbish about emotional eating being bad for you?.

    But has it really? Let us look closer:

    How To Stop Stress Eating At Night

    If youre stressed during the day, did you know that your hormones can drive you to the kitchen at night?

    A recent study showed that daytime stress fuels the production of ghrelin at night. So reducing stress at work is important.

    Were also more likely to overeat at night time, just because were in close proximity to the kitchen and were less busy with the tasks of the day.

    If you stress eat at night, it helps to reduce temptation at home.If the food is there, youll probably eat it. Make sure youre stocked up with healthy snacks, or stop eating after dinner.

    Theres no need to eat any more after your last meal of the day, and studies show that its actually beneficial for many people to fast for at least 14 hours overnight.

    And if you do get the urge to snack in the evening, try having pre-portioned snacks in your cupboard that will satisfy your urge without leading you to overeat.

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    Since The Trigger Is Not Uncovered The Issue Remains Unaddressed

    Your negative feelings may have been offset by food, but thats only in that instant, and its merely a surface patch. There is a deeper place where the emotions came from, and that problem source is still there, suppressed among the many other things in your life.

    Just like hiding your head in the sand doesnt mean the world doesnt exist, successfully dispelling the emotions via eating doesnt mean the problem has disappeared. It is still there you just dont know it.

    Swap Out Your Worst Snacks

    Emotional Eating Help: What to do INSTEAD of Eating

    If you dont have a giant bag of greasy chips at your fingertips, you cant eat the whole bag. Thats good, because overeating processed snacks can raise your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

    If you need a salty snack, stock popcorn instead. Youll get the whole grains that are one important source of the feel-good hormone serotonin. Youll also get antioxidants to boost your immune system and far fewer calories than chips. Roasted chickpeas are another great crunchy option with protein and fiber to fill you up.

    If stress, anger or sadness trigger your sweet tooth, remember this: The sugar high comes with a low afterward. This low can lead to increased cravings later. And, sweets and processed foods can even make certain mental concerns, including symptoms of depression, worse.

    As an alternative to your favorite candy, cake or pies, Kippen recommends keeping a bowl of sweet fruit out in the open. .

    I also suggest keeping frozen berries on hand that can quickly be throwninto a blender to make a healthy sorbet, she says.

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    What Are The Consequences Of Stress Eating

    The most obvious consequence of stress eating is weight gain.

    But stress eating is a self-perpetuating cycle that actually increases stress in the long-term, rather than addressing it.

    Stress eating only soothes stress on a very short-term basis. As soon as those feel-good hormones have worn off, the craving returns.

    When you use food to meet an emotional need instead of a physical one, you feel good in the moment. The food satisfies your need for distraction and comfort.

    But when the original bad feeling returns, its accompanied by another bad feeling:


    Feel bad, eat, feel bad, eat. And so on.

    If you put on a significant amount of weight, you might feel bad about that too, adding more fuel to the vicious cycle of stress eating.

    So the consequence of stress eating is likely to be more stress eating.

    And the only solution is to break that cycle.

    Tips To Manage Stress Eating

    Have you ever felt like eating a piece of chocolate cake or a bag of chips after a stressful day at work? If so, youre not alone. Studies show that stressful events activate systems associated with metabolism, cognition and reward.

    What does this mean for your waistline? It means that the candy bar you are reaching for after a stressful event may be driven by a combination of physiological and psychological factors.

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    Learn To Accept Your Feelingseven The Bad Ones

    While it may seem that the core problem is that youre powerless over food, emotional eating actually stems from feeling powerless over your emotions. You dont feel capable of dealing with your feelings head on, so you avoid them with food.

    Allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable emotions can be scary. You may fear that, like Pandoras box, once you open the door you wont be able to shut it. But the truth is that when we dont obsess over or suppress our emotions, even the most painful and difficult feelings subside relatively quickly and lose their power to control our attention.

    To do this you need to become mindful and learn how to stay connected to your moment-to-moment emotional experience. This can enable you to rein in stress and repair emotional problems that often trigger emotional eating. HelpGuides free Emotional Intelligence Toolkit can show you how.

    How Can You Manage Stress Eating

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    1. Practice mindful eating. Know that your craving may be a result of a stressful event, and then ask yourself, are you truly hungry? Wait a few minutes before eating.

    2. Find healthier options. If you still feel the need for a snack, consider a lower-calorie, lower-fat option than what you may have previously chosen. Here are some healthy snacks I enjoy:

    • Something sweet: Cut up an apple and spread some nut butter on it. The combination of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat should help curb your appetite and satisfy your need for a sweet.
    • Something savory: Consider adding hummus to deviled eggs for a lower-calorie, high-protein snack option.

    3. Watch portion size. Instead of taking the whole box with you, put a snack-size amount on a plate. Check the package to see what one serving size is, and try to stick to that.

    Its always a good idea to consult your doctor or a dietitian when you make changes to your diet.

    This article is written by Erin Gager, R.D., L.D.N., a dietitian at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

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    Successfully Managing Stress May Help Control Weight

    While stress is an inevitable part of life for many people, the weight gain that can accompany it isnt. Changing your response to stress and adopting strategies to reduce it can keep the numbers on your scale from moving in the wrong direction, says Dr. Stanford.

    These five strategies may help:

    Burn off tension. Exercise is a crucial component of stress management, because physical activity can actually reduce cortisol levels. But you will find excuses to avoid workouts if you dread them. Finding an activity you love your “soulmate workout,” as Dr. Stanford calls it can help you maintain the regular physical activity you need in order to dissolve daily stress. For some people it might be yoga, for others, high-intensity exercise or a combination of the two.

    Prioritize sleep. A lack of sleep can increase the amount of stress hormones circulating in your body. So ensuring you get enough restful slumber is crucial to managing stress effectively. “Avoid screen time at least an hour prior to bedtime,” says Dr. Stanford. This includes your smartphone. The blue light emitted by smartphones can interfere with sleep.

    Talk to your doctor. If youre having problems coping with stress or controlling emotional eating, talk to your primary care physician. He or she may be able to refer you to a health coach, support services, or an obesity specialist. Medications might help some people, but these must be taken long-term or you may regain lost weight.

    Learn To Accept Yourself And Your Feelings

    Emotional eating stems from feeling like you’re not in complete control over your own life. Avoiding these feelings will cause you to turn to food for comfort. Dealing with your emotions may be frightening, and suppressing your feelings won’t prevent you from overeating. Being mindful about your habits and learning how to adequately handle stress through acceptance of what you’re feeling will help you combat emotional eating.

    Also Check: How To Cope With Stress For Teens

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