In times of stress, our body tends to crave junk food, but you don’t have to give in with these tips on how to prevent stress eating.
What Does Stress Eating Look Like?
Stress eating is when we eat mindlessly, when we’re not hungry, but rather, when we’re feeling uncomfortable or stressed.
It typically looks something like standing up at the counter shoveling in shredded vegan cheese from the package, making a mid day run to buy chocolate or cookies then inhaling them in 0.3 seconds, or getting the urge to whip up a batch of brownies or baked goods when feeling frazzled.
Why do we Stress Eat?
We eat when we’re stressed because it calms us down AND it allows us to actively ignore an uncomfortable feeling. We’d rather eat and distract ourselves instead of dealing with it.
Comfort foods may comfort us in the moment, but they will do nothing to process, heal, or make peace with the emotion.
The best way to prevent stress eating is to deal with the stressor.
What To Do Before Stress Eating
When you feel the urge to stress eat, follow these three steps:
- Check in with yourself and ask yourself: Am I hungry? Or, am I feeling something uncomfortable right now?
- If you’re feeling uncomfortable, identify the specific feeling. For example, is it overwhelm, fear, loneliness, or sadness?
- Figure out how to deal with that feeling in a non-food way. It helps if you think about this beforehand and keep a list handy of all the possible things you can do when the feeling strikes.
Here are some examples:
- Call a friend
- Write a letter to a friend (Imagine how much joy they’ll get when they open a real life letter!)
- Invite someone over for dinner
- Plan a zoom meetup with a few friends
- Volunteer your time to help the less fortunate
- Start a blog or a new hobby
- Join an online group for something that interests you
- Breathe – breathe in for a count of 2, out for a count of 4, then in for 3 and out for 6, and repeat for a minute or two
- Meditate for 10-20 minutes
- Organize your to do list
- Ask for help
- Delegate where you can
- Play classical music for studying to help you focus
- Sip matcha tea which helps calm you down yet yet focus your thoughts
Do You Stress Eat Regularly? Do This.
In addition to making a list of non-food ways to address your feelings, and questioning yourself in the moment, building regular meditation, exercise, and healthy eating habits into your day will holistically reduce and prevent stress eating. These healthy habits help lower your stress hormone levels and nourish your body with nutrients that support a calmer, less-anxious, and happier mood.
Have you tried these tips? Have they helped? What is your experience with stress eating? Tell me in the comments below.