In order to stop stress eating, you should first find the source of stress. Locating the source of stress will help you find the trigger which is causing you to stress eat. Once the source is located, work on resolving the stress and relieving it. If you suffer from emotional stress, don’t be shy to seek help from a healthcare professional. There are various things, you can incorporate into your lifestyle that will prevent you from stress eating.
Stress can be a serious problem for many people. With a great segment of the population finding themselves in stressful situations, more and more people are turning into stress eaters. Stress eating is a phenomenon that refers to the act of craving food in stressful situations. It happens when you are upset or worried. When you find yourself in a dilemma requiring you to make an important decision, you tend to grab a bag of chips or a bar of chocolate in hopes that eating would help you come to an answer. This also happens when you find yourself upset with something that has happened or is worried about something. Also linked to emotional eating, stress eating causes you to reach for food due to emotional changes in everyday life.
Though it is perfectly normal to want to avoid pain and relieve yourself, stress eating is not considered a healthy habit and can lead to unnecessary weight gain and obesity. The trouble with stress eating is, it usually causes you to indulge in sugary food or massive burgers, which can have major repercussions on your health. In fact, studies have shown a link between stress eating and an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. If stress eating is not resolved promptly and appropriately, you could end up making a habit of it, thereby bringing with it all the negative attributes to your health.
In order to understand how to stop stress eating, you have to first understand why you stress eat in the first place. This is the only way to help resolve the issue, by better understanding the cause of the action; stress eating.
Why Do You Stress Eat?
The science behind why you stress eat is simple. When you find yourself stressed, your body starts activating your adrenal glands which release cortisol in your body. Cortisol works to increase appetite, thereby causing you to eat; mostly comforting food. Another hormone that gets impeded by stress is ghrelin, which is responsible for regulating appetite.
Sleep is another important aspect as to why you stress eat. If you have trouble sleeping, then chances are you would be stress eating. In fact, studies have linked bad sleep to unhealthy eating habits. It’s a cycle that causes bad sleep, resulting in more unhealthy eating patterns developing over time.
Another reason why you stress eat may be due to anxiety. Anxiety-induced hunger can have some serious implications on your health. Unless you resolve the stressful situation brought about by anxiety, you would find yourself in a very unhealthy eating pattern. In fact, one study found that women who were stressed ended up consuming far more calories than they would burn. In fact, they burned fewer calories and fat, resulting in a higher insulin response after a meal. The study published in Biological Psychiatry stated that women who were stressed, burned 100 fewer calories daily, which accumulates to about 11 pounds of weight gain throughout the year.
It is the feeling of being powerless that often leads to stress eating. When stressed, you feel as if everything is beyond your control and the only thing you can control is your eating; this is where you are wrong. You find yourself so overwhelmed that you dismiss unhealthy foods as a healthy means to resolve the situation. Rarely is it that you eat a salad or drink fruit juice when you are stressed. It’s either a massive burger, fries and coke, a sugary piece of chocolate cake, an entire bar of chocolate, ice cream, the list goes on and on. You focus on what you are worried about and not really bother about what you are presently eating, which could have serious effects on your weight and your overall health.
It is often easier to stress eat when you are trying to focus on something. This is because when you find yourself stressed, trying to focus, your cognitive resources are depleted, which breaks your focus and attention. Hence, in order to improve your attention and focus, you grab a tub of ice cream, a bar of chocolate or another cup of creamy hot chocolate. Whatever it takes to get you to focus on the task at hand. You find it easier to tackle the harder problems of the project you are working on, so long as you have your comfort food at hand.
In fact, studies have shown that when you stress eat, you eat unhealthy food as opposed to healthy food. Rarely do you crave a good carrot or a stick of celery. It’s always the types of food that is high in the glycemic index that you crave. This is because high-carb and high-fat food usually increase the secretion of dopamine in your body. Dopamine is known as the feel-good hormone, hence when you eat these types of food, you feel better. This is the primary reason why people stress eat. Their emotional patterns are linked to internal hormonal changes and your brain gets accustomed to labelling certain food as mood fixers. This turns snacking and junk food eating into a habit.
A study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism stated how sugar reduces the effects of the stress-induced hormone, cortisol. This means, when you are stressed, sugar works as a stress reliever. Over time, the act of relieving stress with sugar turns into a habit and you begin to turn to sugary food for comfort in stressful situations.
The problem with stress eating is, you know that the food that you are eating is not healthy; in fact, you know you shouldn’t be eating that entire tub of ice cream, or finish that chocolate bar in one sitting. However, you dismiss this thought until you’ve finished consuming whatever it is that you had your mind and heart set on. After this, the guilt dawns upon you, and you end up feeling worse for having eaten all that sugar or fat. In fact, stress eating works to make a bad situation even worse, which is why it is such an unhealthy habit.
If you are reading this, and have read everything word to word so far, you may be like, ‘great, I know why I stress eat, but how do I stop? Wasn’t that the title of this post?’
In order to understand how to stop stress eating, it is integral that you find the reasoning behind why you stress eat in the first place. As mentioned in the first paragraph of this post, find the source, find the trigger and resolve the stress. This is key. However this may be a rather hard thing to do, we get it, resolving stress isn’t that simple. This is why we have all these recommendations for you; things you can try to help you to stop stress eating. Hence we thank you for your patience, as we guide you down through a list of 16 things you can try to help you to stop stress eating.
How to Stop Stress Eating
Though finding comfort in food during stressful situations is a rather common response to stress, it isn’t always a healthy response. As mentioned prior, rarely do you take comfort in a carrot stick. The trouble with stress eating is, it comes in the form of a cycle. You are stressed, you eat and then you stress about what you ate. It’s time to do what you can to break away from the cycle and bring happiness back to your life.
Here is a list of 16 things you can try to stop you from stress eating.
1) Start a Fitness Diary
This is probably the most helpful thing that you can do to help you resolve the habit of stress eating. A fitness diary helps you keep a track of everything that you are eating. It’s a daily log of everything you ate, even the tub of ice cream that you ate when you were feeling down.
The benefits of a fitness diary are immense. It enables you to write down everything you ate, even the ones that you felt guilty about eating. This prevents you from forgetting the incident and having it happen again and again. The log is a reminder of what happened and what you ate. That way, you know to remember your unhealthy eating habits and resolve them one step at a time.
If you need more convincing on the importance of a fitness diary, we recommend you read our article on ‘Do I Need a Fitness Diary?‘
2) Be More Mindful of Your Health
If you are a stress eater and have started to feel guilty about your eating patterns, then you are on the right path. This is because you have woken up to the fact that your eating habit is doing more harm than good and have actively started researching means of how to resolve this. This means you are mindful of your health and are aware of what you are doing to your body.
Now it’s time to start doing more for your body and start thinking about what you should and should not eat. Eating nutritious meals is only one part of the equation. If you eat healthy all day and binge a tub of ice cream due to stress, then your attempts of staying healthy would have come and gone with the wind. Hence it is important to have self-compassion and start the process of healing through self-love.
Don’t focus on your flaws or your body image, or even start a fad diet in hopes of losing that weight. Instead wake up to the reality at hand and the problem at hand, which is stress eating. Your fitness journal from step one, will in fact help you to do just that. Start being more aware of your overall health, which will resultantly help you locate the sources of stress in your life and help you resolve it.
If you are reading this word to word, you have what it takes, you have come to the realisation that it’s time for you to heal, and do that by being more attentive to your overall health. Remember, that if you do feel the urge to stress eat, do it in moderation at first, eat a little ice cream or a small piece of chocolate. Start where you can and go from there. You are only getting better with time.
3) Keep an Eye on the Alcohol Intake
Though a glass of wine works really well to calm your nerves, it also works to lower your inhibitions whereby causing you to consider patterns of overeating. How likely are you to order food when you’ve had a fair bit to drink as opposed to eating a healthy home-cooked meal?
Further to this, alcohol brings with it dependency issues. You will find yourself in a pattern of drinking and unhealthy eating. Every time you are stressed, you will find yourself urging yourself to drink to resolve your stress, which not only brings with it unnecessary calories of its own, but also the added weight of unhealthy eating which usually follows drinking.
Do not drink to help resolve stress. We cannot iterate this point hard enough. In fact, we will make you read it again. Do not drink to help resolve stress. You will find yourself stuck in an addictive cycle of stress and alcohol and find it very difficult to break out from. Limit yourself to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men; as recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
4) Choose Filling and Healthy Foods
The trick is with shopping for food. When you go shopping for food, this is when you decide what you will be eating this week. Choosing healthy options to eat and staying away from making unhealthy purchases prevents you from stress eating altogether. If you don’t buy it, it isn’t readily available at home for you to eat every time you feel stressed.
Stocking your cabinets and refrigerator with healthy and filling food will help you nip stress eating in the bud. So instead of buying candy and ice cream, chips and soda, look to make more informed purchases. Now that you have woken up to your eating habits and are more aware of what you need to do to better safeguard your health, this is a good place to start.
Look for food that is high in protein, fibre and healthy fats. Stock up on nuts and eat a bowl of nuts while you work, to help you through the stressful project. Replace the old eating habits with new ones and ensure that you eat healthy food every time you work up an appetite.
You can even eat healthy if you are living on a budget. When you don’t spend all that money on the junk that you eat, you have more at hand to spend on lovely avocados and nuts. If you are looking for ways to eat healthy on a budget, we recommend you read our article on ‘Healthy Meals on a Budget.‘
5) Work on Portion Control
We know it can be hard to put yourself on a strict diet, which is why we don’t recommend any fad diets for someone in your shoes. Instead what we do recommend is that you start thinking about the portions of consumption and start to decrease the portions as opposed to stopping it altogether. The chances of relapsing or failing are significantly reduced when you work on it from this angle.
For instance, how often do you simply grab a tub of ice cream and eat straight from the tub? Eating straight from the tub causes you to not keep an eye on the portion of consumption. You could end up eating a whole lot more than you intended to at first or even wake up to the realisation that you ate the whole tub. Simply serving yourself a bowl not only makes sure you consume less, but it makes you more aware of the process involved. You are not only awake to the fact that you are stress eating, but are aware of the fact that you are eating something that isn’t too healthy for you.
Watching your potions helps you take more control of the situation, thus combating the effects of stress eating and controlling it to an extent. Instead of serving yourself a huge bowl of ice cream, use a smaller bowl, so what if you have two serving at first, eventually you will learn to take control of the habit. At least you won’t be eating the entire tub in one sitting.
6) Forget the Distractions
How often do you binge-watch a TV show? Better yet, how often do you watch a movie and not eat anything during the movie? This is sort of in-built into our culture now. With so much technology around us, our world is full of distractions.
Though watching your favourite TV show or catching a movie can relax you after a stressful day, it isn’t wise to eat during these distractions. This is because you are more focused on what you are looking at, and as entertained as you are, you end up eating a whole lot more than you anticipated. This is where controlling portions as mentioned above comes into the equation. If you grab a tub of ice cream during a movie, the chances are you might end up eating the whole thing during the course of 90 minutes. Though this may be a guilty pleasure for many, this isn’t something that is considered healthy.
If you are accustomed to eating your meals in front of the television, try breaking this habit and eat in a less distracting environment. When you eat, concentrate on your eating and pay attention to your food. Enjoy the meal and savour everything as opposed to chugging things down your throat in front of a TV screen.
You will significantly prevent instances of overeating, and break the patterns involved in distractive consumption. Not only will you be more mindful of what you eat, but you are less likely to overeat when you are less distracted. This works really well in combination with the fitness diary as mentioned above.
7) Stay Away From Boredom
They say an idle mind is the devil’s playground. The trouble with boredom is, you find yourself with so much time with nothing to do, that you fill the emptiness by relying on food. Boredom has been linked to stress as per a study conducted by York University in Toronto.
Hence, when you are bored and find yourself looking to make brownies or eat a bag of chips, this is stress eating. In comparison to eating a bag of chips, at least you will be making the brownies first. Either ways, it is important to fill your day with healthy habits and activities, which can keep you busy.
Learn a new skill, start a new project, take a course, whatever it takes to break away from boredom. The more you do with your time, the more accomplished you will feel, thereby the stress in your life will resultantly get resolved. If you find yourself stressed due to boredom, we recommend that you resolve this and find the healthier side of life. Remember, boredom is not healthy and can lead to stress eating, though it may seem as if they aren’t linked at all.
8) Get Active
Start to proactively take more initiative in your life to make healthier changes to your lifestyle. Lack of daily exercise can resultantly cause you to live a more stressful life. The less active you are, the more stressed you will become. This may be the trigger that is causing you to stress eat in the first place. As mentioned it is a cycle.
The best way to break away from this cycle is to incorporate some exercise into your lifestyle. This not only burns more calories which resultantly makes you feel good about yourself, but it resolves stress in the best way possible. Research has shown that increasing physical activity can better elevate your mood and helps to reduce stress in your life. This will resultantly prevent you from stress eating, for you would be more inclined to a healthier life.
By making healthier proactive decisions such as initiatives to start exercising, you bring about the changes required in your life to combat stress eating. In fact, if you have been stress eating, it is time to consider starting some form of exercise. Maybe there is a sport you really enjoy, or like swimming in general. Maybe you haven’t gone on a run in a long time and it’s time to get started again. If you haven’t heard of Yoga before, it can be the ticket for you to get out of the stressful cycle of stress eating. Read our article on ‘The Health Benefits of a Daily Yoga Practice‘ to get a better idea.
9) Hydration is Key
If you are a stress eater, then you may find yourself grabbing a soda every time you are thirsty. Though soda works to quench your thirst, it doesn’t work to hydrate you. Hence when you are finding yourself in a stress eating cycle, hydration is the one simple truth that will prevent you from stress eating.
Being dehydrated increases your chances of developing obesity. Further to this, dehydration can lead to mood changes, and drops in energy levels, which can have drastic effects on your life if you are a stress eater. In fact, how often do you drink a glass of water every time you find yourself stressed? Rarely, it is usually the high-calorie soda, the last piece of chocolate cake, or even your fifth fix of coffee, loaded with sugar.
If you have trouble drinking water, start drinking more fruit juice. This is a great way to stay hydrated and comes as a yummy treat. As an easier option, you can add a few slices of fruit to your water to make it tastier. Lemon water is a treat and is great for your health.
10) Cook Your Meals Yourself
If you tend to eat out more often, then it’s time to consider making a change and start to cook for yourself. The more you cook for yourself, the better improved your overall health will be. You are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and can keep all the worrying health conditions that come with eating out too often at bay.
Cooking is a great way to resolve stress in your life. Many people say that cooking is a rather relaxing activity, something they enjoy doing. You end up eating fewer calories, gaining fewer pounds, in fact, you may even see yourself losing a few. Cooking your meals for yourself helps you take control of your eating habits and be in check of what you consume every day.
Not only does this reduce the risk of developing obesity, but it helps to resolve your stress, thereby preventing you from stress eating. When you cook your own meals, you are more present with what it is that you are consuming, which prevents you from making unhealthy decisions by making you more aware of your choices.
11) Don’t Restrict Food Intake
If you are a stress eater, the last thing you want to do is put yourself on a strict diet. This would make things even worse for you, by making you gloomier than you already were. You might find yourself so down and out that you give up after a few weeks and go back to stress eating; the tub of ice cream a night.
When it comes to breaking the cycle of stress eating, it is important that you don’t overtly restrict your food intake or deprive yourself of food. This could make an already stressful life, even more stressful.
In fact, research has proven that restrictive dieting does not effectively work for long term weight loss ambitions, and can have a harmful effect on your physical and mental health. It works against you, further increasing stress levels, which is why again and again we have mentioned in this article, that it isn’t time to consider that new fad diet.
12) Schedule Your Meals
When you consider stress eating, the first and most important thing you can rely on to break away from the cycle of stress eating is scheduling your daily meals. If you are eating three meals a day, spread out throughout the day, then chances are there isn’t a whole lot of room for you to snack and stress eat. However if you consume say two meals a day, then the chances of snacking are greatly increased.
In fact, people who eat one big meal every day are more prone to stress eating and are accustomed to getting more of their daily calorie requirements from junk food. You might eat one meal a day and eat a whole bag of chips next, followed by half a bottle of soda and a bar of ice cream for dinner. This is horrible when you consider it being practised in the long run.
It is important that you schedule your meals for the right times of the day, and evenly spread out three equally portioned meals, which will prevent you from stress eating. Remember, stress eating is a disorder, which requires careful attention to precision to resolve. Hence be mindful of what you eat and when you eat it. As recommended, ensure you get three meals every day, good portions of healthy and nutritious food.
13) Steer Clear of Temptation
This goes back to choosing the correct food as mentioned above. The more you steer clear of temptation, the better chances you have of breaking the stress eating cycle. Having tempting food around the house will lead to snacking, hence eliminate them when and where possible. If you have the tendency to give in to temptation, then take the advice from above, nip it at the bud and don’t purchase them.
However, if you prefer having some chocolate around the house or do purchase some ice cream as a treat to yourself, then by all means be mindful of the portions and don’t be tempted to over-consume.
If you are able to control your temptations and not give in to unhealthy eating habits, then you have a good chance of breaking the cycle caused by stress-eating. When we say steer clear of temptation, this means, don’t go to an ice cream parlour where you will buy a huge portion of ice cream. Staying away from the fast-food joints that serve artery-clogging meals. Makes the choices that you have to make in order to break away from these unhealthy eating habits. The best way to do that is to come to the realisation of what tempts you and then work to resolve them by writing in your fitness diary!
14) Drink Green Tea
Green tea has been marvelled at for its various health benefits for years now. It is probably your best tool in bringing about the change you require when it comes to stress eating. If you find yourself stressed, the various antioxidants in green tea could help you resolve stress in one of the healthiest way possible.
In fact, when you consider the grand scale of everything, the people who drink green tea tend to live a healthier lifestyle. They tend to eat healthier food, exercise daily and have a more positive outlook on life. This is because the act of sipping green tea throughout the day has various therapeutic effects, which brings with it ensured overall health and wellness. Not only do you stand the chance to lose more weight, but you will break away from the stress eating habit. Think about it, the more accustomed you are to drinking green tea instead of stress eating when you find yourself in a tough situation, the healthier you will become by replacing that old habit with the healthier new habit
This can be a seriously effective means of breaking the cycle of stress eating. When you consider green tea, it is important that you find an authentic source for green tea and stay away from all the store-bought brands that offer low-quality green tea. It is important that you have a reliable source of high catechin, authentic green tea, which is why we went through the trouble of finding a good source for you. This green tea is organically source and is ceremonial grade green tea shipped to you all the way from Japan. You can rest assured that you are getting high-quality green tea, with all the health benefits packed straight in. If you are interested in buying some green tea, simply click the image below, you will be directed to the sales page. We have partnered with the tea provider who pays us a small commission on every purchase, so do help us to keep helping more people like you.
15) Sleep Better
People who have trouble sleeping are more inclined to stress eating. It is a resultant effect of lack of sleep, which usually places people in a bad mood. The problem with the lack of sleep is, it messes with your emotions, making you more susceptible to unhealthy eating habits. In fact, people who sleep better have a healthier outlook on life and usually have less trouble dealing with stressful situations.
In other words, if you sleep better, the chances of stress eating are significantly reduced. Hence it is important to understand yourself and your sleep pattern and do what you can to get better sleep at night.
If you have trouble sleeping and are worried about your lack of sleep leading to unhealthy decisions throughout the day, we do recommend that you consider Sleep Support Plus, a trusted partner which provides a herbal formulation aimed at helping you sleep better at night.
16) Understand Yourself
Take a good hard look at yourself and ask yourself why you keep doing this to your body. Ask yourself, why do you overeat, what should you do to break these nasty habits? Take some time to understand yourself. If you find yourself stress eating, understand what is causing the stress, come to the root of the problem.
The more you understand yourself, the better chance you have of combating stress eating and resolving the issue. When you eat, pay attention to how you feel. Are you eating because you are sad, are you eating because you are stressed, are you eating because you are lonely? If you aren’t eating just because you are hungry, then this is a sure shot sign that you are stress eating.
Stress eating isn’t always easy to break out of, especially if you are stress eating due to emotional reasons. This is why in the first paragraph of this article itself, we mentioned, that you should not shy away from seeking professional help if you find yourself in emotional eating patterns.
Is Stress Eating a Disorder?
Stress eating is an eating disorder that affects your overall wellbeing and health. If left unaddressed, it can lead to overeating and binge eating, which results in a higher risk of obesity and chronic health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.
If you are worried about stress eating, it isn’t too late to take action. You can find the list that we provided and put them to good use to help you resolve your disorder. You can try green tea which can really help you find the right balance in life which you would require to help beat the issue. If you have trouble sleeping, seek out Sleep Support Plus, their product can work wonders on your sleep pattern. If nothing else works, we do recommend that you consult a health care professional to address your issue. Leaving stress eating unattended could have disastrous consequences in the long run.
If you would like to resolve stress herbally and try everything you can before you seek professional guidance, we do have a programme that we could recommend. Stress Support offers a herbal product that has worked wonders for many people around the world. You can check the testimonials for yourself. Including a combination of herbal ingredients, Stress Support will help relax you and keep the unhealthy effects of stress eating away. If you would like to consider taking a herbal supplementation, we do strongly recommend Stress Support as trusted by many people around the world.
Signs That You May Be An Emotional Eater
If you change your eating habits when you have more stress in your life, then you are in fact a stress eater. This could also mean eating when you are not actually hungry, or in fact, eating when you are already full.
You could be eating to avoid stressful situations or as a means to help resolve your stress or emotional crisis. If you turn to food for comfort and look to food to hide under, then yes you are a stress eater. You find yourself emotionally attached to food, which helps you from feeling uncomfortable emotions such as loneliness and sadness. If you eat as a means to gain power over the situation, then yes you are an emotional eater.
If you have trouble losing weight, it may be due to your emotional eating habits. You find yourself seeking refuge in food every time you have an emotional response or when you find yourself stressed with something. This can lead to uncontrolled eating habits, which you yourself have a hard time contemplating sometimes. How did I eat that whole bar of chocolate, or how did I finish that entire tub of icecream? You may find yourself asking these questions. If you are finding yourself in this position, it isn’t too late to start now. You don’t have to eat to make yourself happy all the time, stop giving in to your dopamine response to high glycemic food.
If you are always thinking about food, or are thinking about food in the most wrong and lustful ways, then yes you are an emotional eater. Even though you are full, you can’t help but wonder if there is any ice cream in the fridge. These are all signs of emotional eating.
If you have random food cravings which don’t go away, this is because you are an emotional eater. If you have come this far reading this post word to word, it is because you can come to the conclusion that you are a stress eater and emotional eater and that you have trouble in your life that you have to resolve. This is why, as mentioned within the first paragraph of this post, it is best to find the source of the stress and resolve the issue which is triggering your unhealthy eating. If you require help with managing your stress, as mentioned prior you can try Stress Support, it is a fabulous herbal remedy to combatting stress and is trusted by many people around the world.
Try everything that is mentioned within the post and if nothing works, consult a health care professional before obesity catches you. Do what you can to resolve stress, and over time, you will develop healthier eating habits.
Resolve the Issue
Remember, when it comes to stress, the best thing to do is resolve the issue and find the means that you require to managing your stress. This could mean you start meditating, doing yoga, taking herbal stress relievers, or taking doctor prescribed stress medication. Whatever be the means that you adopt, you have to find a way to prevent the eating disorder from taking over your life.
If you read this word to word, it is because you have a problem and you need to do something about it. Hence we hope the information we provided within this post has been helpful for you in battling your condition. We do sincerely hope that you find the means to resolve the issue and act according to your intentions to bring about the best results for you. It’s not too late, even if you’ve already gained a fair bit of weight on your way to this article. There are people and programmes to help you with that too. You can deal with your weight once you have worked on resolving the issue of stress eating. We do recommend that you consider the herbal stress reliever, Stress Support, it could really help you find the levels of relaxation in your life to wake up to your unhealthy eating practices and take control of your life.
We hope that reading this word to word has enriched your life and that we have done our part by helping you find everything you need. If there is anything more you would like us to include or any way in which we can help you, don’t be shy to reach out to us, our email is on the contact us page. We do also offer a free 10-step weight loss programme. If you would like access to it, reach out to us via email.
We wish you the very best in resolving your eating disorder and hope you make healthier decisions along the way to a healthier life.