Stress eating can be a calming distraction for many people. Cortisol levels increase when you are stressed, and that increases your appetite and your cravings for foods that are high in sugar and fat. Although stress eating can help you feel better in the short-term, it does not eliminate the initial stressor. It returns and is typically compounded by feelings of guilt and shame from overeating. The great news is that you can successfully pull yourself out of the stress eating cycle by making plans to better handle stress.
8 Tips to Successfully Beat Stress Eating
- Identify your stressors. Taking the time to identify what is causing your stress can take your mind off of eating and can help you address what is really stressing you.
- Organize your kitchen. By keeping junk food out of sight and healthier food within reach, you can optimize your eating choices and develop healthy habits.
- Remind yourself “why.” Post reminders about why you want to lose weight. Seeing these posted in visible places can give you the split-second you need to make the choice not to stress eat.
- Find a new routine for dealing with stress. You have to replace food with another option in order to overcome stress eating. Take a different route on the way home from work to avoid your favorite fast-food place. Instead of sitting down in front of the TV and snacking, go for a nice walk instead.
- Meditate. Mindful meditation is a great stress reliever because it calms your mind and your body. Mindful meditation can also help you lower your episodes of stress eating.
- Keep your hands busy. Directing your attention to something calming and tactile can help you resist the urge to eat. Fold clothes, enjoy an adult coloring book, paint your nails or knit.
- Breathe. Making time to stop and breathe can help you relax, thus reducing your cortisol levels.
- Get a good night’s sleep. In addition to stress, a lack of sleep can increase hunger-inducing hormones. If you’re tired because of a lack of sleep, you are more prone to stress eating as your cortisol rises. Try to aim for 7 to 8 hours of good, uninterrupted sleep.