Is there an easy way to stop stress eating?
Is there a way to stop stress eating?
Here are 4 crucial steps that can help stop stress eating
- Make Stress Eating Really Difficult
- Manage Your Stress
- Find a Compelling Reason
- Take the Pause
#1 Make Stress Eating Really Difficult
Imagine this scenario.
You come home from work, tired, frustrated, and annoyed. At this point, your mind can’t stop wandering to those thoughts that lead to stress eating.
I deserve it!
I don’t care about my health right now, I just want to feel better!
It’s not that bad for me anyway!
Do any of those sound familiar?
Then when you get home if there happens to be some cookies on your counter., of course you are going to eat them!
You feel great for about 1 minute and then you regret eating those cookies!
Or perhaps you know you have a bag of potato chips in your pantry. Throughout your trip home, you are planning to eat them, dreaming about eating them even.
By the time you have them in your hand, NOTHING IS GOING TO STOP YOU FROM EATING THEM!
This is an all-too-common scenario.
The first step in addressing this issue is to make it hard, NOT EASY, to indulge in that behavior.
In other words, get those potato chips and cookies OUT OF YOUR HOUSE!
Make sure you either ask someone else to get rid of them for you or you throw them away when your willpower is at its highest (usually in the morning).
Also, go shopping when your willpower is at its highest; when you are NOT stressed, tired, annoyed, or otherwise compromised.
If your story goes more like you stop by a pizzeria or donut shop or grocery store when you are stressed on your way home, then you’ll have to drive another route or leave your credit cards at home and only bring enough cash for the day (excluding that stop for food on the way home).
You have got to make it DIFFICULT to engage in the behavior.
This will certainly not guarantee you won’t do it. But it will be a deterrent.
Without a doubt, having those favorite stress-eating-treats in your house will make it hard for you to avoid them. So GET. THEM. OUT.
#2 Manage Your Stress
What is the stress that is causing you to engage in stress-eating?
First, you need to identify what it is.
I suggest spending a week just observing the triggers that set you off to eat in a way that you know is not beneficial.
Once you have identified the causes of stress. Do something about it!
Can you remove or reduce the stress?
Are you spending time with the wrong people?
Is there a way to reduce job stress or commute stress?
Are you saying “yes” to too many things?
Are you needlessly worrying about things that are outside of your control?
What is at the core of the stress?
Once you have explored this, see if you can slowly start to make a change.
I had a client that just had so much on her plate that she was always on the bottom of her list.
With small children, a long commute, and her desire to please everyone, she was stretched way too thin.
Eating was her one comfort but the food was NOT THE PROBLEM. Her lack of self-care and overwhelm were the true problems.
This is no way to live. If you need help, seek it out. Talk therapy is often a great place to start.
What are your priorities in life? What are your values and passions?
Get to know these and see if the way you are living your life is aligned with your priorities and values and if it’s bringing you joy.
There is no time like the present to start taking care of numero uno.
Yes, meditation and breathing exercises also help and I encourage you to practice these daily.
But it is also crucial that you assess your life and see if there are stressors that are causing you to overeat that could be eliminated.
Also, mind your thoughts!
Are you in the present moment or are you upset about the past and/or worrying about the future?
Living in the present moment is the key to happiness and certainly will reduce your feelings of stress.
#3 Find a Compelling Reason
What is wrong with stress-eating?
Nothing if you don’t think so.
Usually, stress-eating refers to an activity that has negative health consequences. In most cases weight gain, blood sugar imbalances, and tummy aches.
So, if you are reading this you probably have a good reason for stopping the stress eating.
What is that reason?
It better be a good one!
If you want to stop stress-eating because you have a vague notion it is bad for you, you probably aren’t going to stop.
Find your “why”.
Is it because you feel out of control? If so, why does that bother you?
Is it because you think it’s a sign of weakness to be out of control?
Okay, why does that bother you?
Keep asking yourself “why”.
Go deep with this.
Make a list and post it everywhere.
If you have a typical time of day that you usually engage in stress-eating, set your alarm with one of your compelling reasons why you want to stop.
Use your “whys” as a tool to help you in those difficult moments.
You need a compelling reason to stop. A reason so strong that it will rally your willpower, even if you are tired, stressed, annoyed, and really don’t care in the moment.
Remind yourself why you care!
#4 Take the Pause
Every time you eat, there is a decision involved. Actually, there are many decisions involved.
But there is a moment when we say to ourselves, “I’m going to eat that.”
When it comes to normal meals and healthy eating, that decision is usually based on hunger and some combination of factors such as what is available, what your body needs, and how healthy and appealing it is.
When it comes to eating stuff that makes you feel guilty, bloated, or sick afterwards, often the decision is made out of a negative feeling such as stress, anger, sadness, and the like.
When do you make the decision to stress-eat?
Is it on the drive home from work?
Is it as you are ending the stressful event when you are already formulating a strategy for eating the food?
Is it such a habit that you don’t even think about it anymore?
No matter when you make that decision, if you are paying attention you will begin to see a pattern.
Just start by noticing.
Think about what thoughts are running around your head when you make the decision.
Then before you engage in the behavior, take a moment to pause.
At first, just do this and nothing else.
Just pause and reflect. Don’t have any expectations of a change in behavior. Just start paying attention to the thoughts and emotions swirling.
Do you really want this food?
If so, why?
What will it bring you?
Is it worth it?
Is there a substitute food or activity that you can replace it with?
Take out your list of “whys” and read them.
Do you still really want to eat that food?
Is it worth it?
I’m not going to try to pretend that it is easy to overcome stress eating because it’s not.
But where there is a will, there is a way.
I have provided you with tools to start to address this issue and I hope they help!
If you feel that you need a deeper level of support and accountability and you are really committed to making a change and transforming your relationship with food and your body, you may want to have a chat about joining a private program with me.
If so, click on the contact link below and tell me you want to chat about joining a private program.
I only accept a small number of program clients at any given time so only call me if you are really committed and you are ready to start really and truly prioritizing YOU.