Top Tips To Stop Stress Eating

Stressful times can lead some people to get into the habit of eating in unhealthy ways - the habit of stress or comfort eating.

It’s so easy to get into the habit of stuffing yourself until you are absolutely full because of boredom, stress, overwhelment or exhaustion. This kind of eating is emotional and mindless and can lead to numerous health and psychological problems.

The urge for this kind of eating doesn’t come from hunger. It comes from a need to feel full which hides or covers up the inner pain you might be feeling at the time. It may be the case that you don’t even stop eating when you are full but until you are feeling really uncomfortable and bloated within your stomach.

​Stress Eating Can Cause Serious Emotional Issues

You can do this quite easily while not paying attention to what you’re eating through watching TV, reading a book or playing on your tablet computer. Suddenly, it seems, you can have gulped down large quantities of chips, pizza, chocolates and other unhealthy foods, without even realizing it.

Even if you start with good intentions, you can still start on the downward spiral of unhealthy eating quite quickly. This stress eating can become a habit quickly and before you know it, you are addicted. Not only that, you end up feeling completely disgusted with yourself for indulging in these kinds of behaviors.

It all sounds horrible when you think about it. Stress eating can destroy lives. It can destroy your self-esteem and your emotional life can spiral downwards into the pits of depression. Your weight can skyrocket and you begin to hate yourself. So what can be done about this?

What Can Be Done About Stress Eating?

The first thing to do is to identify the emotions and triggering situations that cause you to stress eat.

The truth is that stress or comfort eating isn’t always your fault. It isn’t necessarily an indication that you are weak, out of control or bad in some way. There can often be logical reasons behind it.

It comes down to a hormone that your body produces called cortisol. Cortisol is automatically produced when you start to feel stressed out. Cortisol gives you the urge to eat high carbohydrate and high-fat sweets and salty foods.

By eating these kinds of foods, your brain is automatically triggered to produce the feeling good hormone, dopamine. That’s all fine for getting yourself feeling good again except that, over time, you can become dependent on those comforting foods in order to feel in control again during a period of stress.

If you are having sleep problems because you are worried or anxious about things, that can make the situation even worse. The food can end up filling a void during every time in which you feel empty and unfulfilled in life.

Find Out The Real Cause Behind Your Stress Eating

So the first step in dealing with stress eating is to figure out what exactly is causing you to reach for that bag of potato chips. Are you feeling bad about something in your life right now? Are you feeling anxious or worried? Are you feeling angry about something?

Once you start to deal with those feelings, you’ll probably find that your stress eating will diminish greatly or even vanish.

The foods that we eat are often used as a distraction from those feelings. If you are stressed out about your job or feeling financial pressures, it can be easier to reach for those comfort foods and trigger that good-feeling dopamine response instead of dealing with the underlying issue that is causing the emotional pain the first place.

But even if you reach for those foods and feel temporarily better, the emotional pain has not gone away. It has simply been covered up by short-term masking of the emotion. Plus, if you stress eat regularly, you’ll also start to feel bad about how your bodily health is starting to be affected.

You may put on weight and may start to suffer diseases related to the stress. This can trigger a cycle that will only add to the problems. Your emotions can start a cycle of overeating, which makes you feel even worse about yourself, which then leads to even more overeating.

It's Ok To Feel Bad Sometimes

A way to break free of the vicious cycle is to simply accept your bad feelings as they are in the moment. Allow yourself to feel those negative emotions and, instead of trying to run from them, just accept them with kindness.

If you do this for long enough, eventually your body and mind will start to accept that it’s natural to feel bad sometimes. Instead of trying to use food as a way of covering up the bad feelings, you will just accept the emotions you are feeling in that moment and allow them to be as they are.

When you stop being scared of your bad feelings, those negative emotions will start to lose their power over you. You will no longer feel compelled to reach for food to cover them up. Instead, you’ll think of ways to channel the anger, worry or anxiety into more positive and constructive purposes.

When you start to accept your feelings, you’ll be able to think in a more detached way about whatever is required in order to make those changes in your life that will lead to more positive emotions eventually.

How Can You Implement These Ideas In A Practical Way?

The next time you’re starting to feel stress and are reaching for comfort food, just pause for a few moments and reflect within yourself as to your real reason for eating at that time. Allow yourself to have a five minute break before you eat, just to consider the reasons for doing so. During those minutes, you can give yourself the chance of making a different choice than unthinkingly reaching for that bag of potato chips.

Think about how you’re feeling at that moment. Think if there’s a better way of dealing with any negative emotions you may be experiencing than eating some comfort food.

In the end, however, it may be that you really still want to have that sugary snack. In that case, try and be moderate about what you are eating rather than trying to stuff yourself silly. And, at least next time, you would already have had some insight into the reasons why you’re being drawn to those sugary and salty snacks.

Come Up With Constructive Responses Instead

Once you understand the cycle of stress eating, you can preplan some more constructive responses the next time it comes up. You might want to listen to some of your favorite music or go out for a walk or write about how you’re feeling in a journal. You might like to indulge in some creative activities, try breathing deeply, or just sitting in nature for a while.

The negative emotions you are feeling will not last forever. So even finding something constructive to do for a while can often distract you from them long enough that the bad feelings will have dissipated and your urge to eat will have diminished.

You can also help yourself by giving up eating mindlessly. Give up watching TV or reading a book while you eat. Just focus exclusively on your eating and you will become more aware of what you are putting into your body every day.

It’s fun to indulge yourself every so often. Food can be a wonderful pleasure in life. By understanding stress eating and how to deal with it, you can learn to really enjoy your food instead of being frightened by it.

Top Tips To Stop Stress Eating was last modified: July 5th, 2017 by Toby Cain