Tired of stress eating? Do you have the bad habit that can cause overweight and lots of health problems over time? So, here is your best guide to stop the problems and get rid of the junk food you eat when you’re stressed or pressed.
We all get that life can be stressful and all those things making you crazy with stress are damaging more than just your nerves. If you have ever reached for a bag of chips or a bar of chocolate when you feel stressed, then you’re eating your stress.
The stress you’re feeling isn’t caused by hunger and by eating your stress away, not only are you not treating the cause of your stress, but you are also damaging your body and health which can lead to more stress and stress eating.
There is no easy way to get over your stress and overcome the massive amount of calories you’re eating to cope with the stress. Don’t get discouraged, because you are not alone, there are thousands and probably hundreds of thousands of people who stress eat. Try these ideas for overcoming stress eating.
Understanding overeating versus actual hunger
Understanding stress eating can help you realize what exactly it is that you are doing and why. But what are the differences between stress eating and actual hunger?
The need to stress eat can hit hard and fast and before you even know it, you’ve already eaten everything that you promised you wouldn’t. If it hits fast and leaves you feeling guilty and ashamed of yourself, it is probably stress eating. Physical hunger appears slowly over time, not in 5 minutes or right after you’ve eaten.
If you are craving certain types of food that are high in carbs and sugar, while being low in nutrients, these are probably comfort foods that you eat when you are stressed. Your body naturally craves a rainbow of foods, including fruits and vegetables. Your stress is craving the high carb, high sugar, and processed foods that are bad for you.
Get rid of the stress
One of the most obvious and difficult things to do is cut the stress out of your life. There are tons of ways to cope with stress eating, but if you want to overcome it, you have to treat the cause of your stress; from a terrible boss to social stress, etc….
If you don’t treat the cause of your stress, all you will ever be able to do is cope with it. This can lead to relapses and a vicious circle of trying to change and giving up. Start by making small changes that cut the stress from your life.
If morning traffic makes you stressed, wake up a bit earlier and enjoy your morning coffee at a café near work, before the morning rush. If you are stressed because you don’t get enough sleep, set a reminder on your phone and when it goes off, go to bed. It is easy to say, but you have to work at it, in order to get the results you want.
Break the habit
Overcoming stress eating is all in your head and it is about breaking the habit of eating when you’re stressed. Instead of giving in to the urge to eat when you are stressed, make a new habit. Instead of reaching for food, get out of the house and go for a walk. Retrain your brain so that when you are stressed, you want to go for a walk in the fresh air, rather than going for ice cream.
Go to the gym and lift weights, do exercises or to the pool for a swim. If specific things are triggering your need to stress eat, make a list of things that trigger you and avoid them as much as possible and when you can’t, try reducing the stressful aspects of what’s stressing you out. It is easier said than done, but it is worth it.
Make daily, weekly, or monthly goals and when you meet them, treat yourself. No, do not go for a giant bowl of ice cream. Treat yourself to a movie, a sports game, or even get your hair done and pamper yourself. Associate not stress eating with getting to do fun things that make you happy and watch the stress melt from your life.
Eat more often
Smaller meals spread throughout the day can be a great trick for cutting down on excess calories. Eating 5-6 small meals a day can help keep you full so that when you get stressed, there isn’t any room for that slice of cake. Those smaller meals can help keep your blood sugar in check, which can help keep you energized throughout the day giving you the energy you need to cope with the stress that is causing your overeating, in a healthy way that doesn’t tip the scales.
The thing to remember with smaller meals is that they should be small, so about half of what you would eat for a normal meal. Make your life easier by prepping your meals in advance, so you can just grab it and go. There are thousands of options for eating healthy meals that taste great, try some new recipes that interest you for example. This will keep your taste buds happy and keep you excited about food in general.
Don’t buy the junk
Another trick is to not buy the foods you’re stress eating, if it isn’t readily available, you can’t eat it. Instead, stock up on fresh fruits and some veggies that you can grab when you get the stress eating urge. Make sure to have them washed, cut, peeled, or sliced in advance so they are more convenient than running to the store for surgery carbs.
A plate full of green grapes can have only 100-200 calories, versus that bag of chips with thousands. In most cases of stress eating, you aren’t actually hungry, but once you think you need to eat, it can be hard to convince yourself otherwise.
Never having the junk and always having healthy options sitting around will encourage you to eat better even if you relapse. Most carvings last for 20-30 minutes, so try set a timer for 30 minutes and if you are still hungry after that, reach for a healthy option. Kale chips are delicious and are a healthy alternative to potato chips.
Write it out
Blogging or keeping a journal can be a great outlet for stress eating. Keeping a food diary and writing about everything you eat on a daily basis can help keep you accountable and motivated. No one but you need to see it, and it can show you exactly what you are eating, which may shock you into changing your eating habits.
Realizing that you eat a huge amount of food and that it is all junk with no nutritional value might be the motivation you need to get over stress eating. Don’t just write about food. If you had the urge to stress eat and overcame it, write about what you did to curb the urge. A healthy body and lifestyle can help reduce stress in your life and then you can kiss your stress eating goodbye!
Strength in numbers
If you’re more of an extrovert, then social interaction can be a lifesaver for overcoming stress eating. Join a group for coping with stress or join a gym group, there may even be a group of people trying to overcome stress eating and that kind of emotional support can be valuable. Knowing that once a week you are accountable for what you ate can deter stress eating.
If once a week isn’t often enough or you want extra accountability, have a friend become your craving buddy. Whenever you are feeling tempted, give your friend a call and talk about why you don’t want to eat that junk food or how much better it feels to not have food controlling your life.
Being accountable to a friend you regularly see can keep you motivated and will force you to not relapse into bad habits. It can also feel good to have someone know your struggle and that you are overcoming it.
Remember your goal
We all know that stress eating isn’t good for you, but you have to have a goal. Whether you want to drop the excess pounds caused by your stress eating or you just want to feel healthier, have a goal. If you don’t have a personal reason for stopping your stress eating, then it will be a lot harder to stay motivated.
List all the reasons why you want to stop stress eating and what your goal is, that way, when you reach you goal, you know that you did it. Keep the list in a place where you’ll see it often and when stress is getting the better of you, read all the reasons why you won’t give in.
Your goal should be the main source of your motivation and you should try to be as specific as possible. Don’t say you want to overcome stress eating because it is bad for you, say you want to overcome stress eating because you want to feel better about yourself. Overcoming stress eating is hard work, but you can do it with the right motivation.