What to do if you can’t stop stress eating
It’s totally normal to struggle with feeling increased hunger or craving less than healthy foods when dealing with periods of increased stress. While it can be difficult to stop stress eating, there are ways to manage your cravings to prevent it from affecting your long-term weight loss success.
Lindsay Kirkland, RD, explained a few ways to manage stress eating and feel more in control.
First off, identify when and why you eat
Do you find yourself reaching for more food when you feel sad or angry? Does it seem like a habit to grab a snack when you’re bored, anxious or just plain tired? Think about when, outside of mealtimes, you are most likely to reach for something to eat.
“Once the trigger is identified,” said Kirkland, “adjust your routine accordingly to either remove the trigger or change how you react to it.”
If you’re eating out of boredom, take up an active hobby or get involved in activities that keep you busy and focused on the task at hand. For instance, many people snack while watching TV, so consider choosing only to eat at the table without any electronic distraction until the meal is done. If you can’t quite fight the need to have something to do while enjoying a show, sip a glass of water or even consider small exercises that can be done while watching television.
For those who eat due to negative emotions like anger, sadness or stress, a meditation exercise or app may help you to manage your emotions and calm down without getting into the habit of eating while working through your stress.
Find alternatives to social eating
It’s common for many groups of friends to find any attempt to get together ends up at a restaurant, bar, café or other place where there’s plenty on the menu and you feel the need to pick something up while you’re there.
Speak to your social group – whether that’s friends, family or other loved ones – and ask them to get on the same page with your goals. Plan get-togethers at someone’s home where food isn’t simply set out for endless snacking, go hiking or to a local park to sit and chat in the shade of a tree, or just go for a light walk around the neighborhood.
Most people will be sympathetic when you explain what you need to change to maximize your ability to stay healthy. If your group is not supportive, it may be best to limit your activities with them for a while or see if they will schedule some events that work for you.
Manage your environment to stop stress eating
Getting stressed at work, dealing with problems at school or home, fears and worries about the future – all of these things can tell your body it needs extra energy and have you thinking about eating to calm your nerves.
Don’t allow your environment to derail you from your path to managing your weight! We can take back control of what our time is dedicated to and who we spend that time with, making sure our time is spent in support of long-term goals and ambitions.
It takes time to stop stress eating, so don’t worry if you slip up
“Stress eating or eating due to boredom or other emotion looks a little different for everyone, so don’t worry too much if it takes you a few attempts to figure out what works for you,” said Kirkland. “The most important thing is that you’re open to new hobbies, new experiences and new habits that encourage you and support your goals.”
Find the care you need, close to home.
Our primary care physicians provide well visits and everyday care when you need it with compassion and expertise.Find Primary Care Near You