4 Ways to Avoid Stress Eating


4 Ways to Avoid Stress Eating - Tips for Emotional Eating

One bag...one sitting. One container...one movie. Whoa, it’s all gone...what happened? Ever sat down for a bite to eat, and before you know it you’ve devoured a ton of food?

It happens. And it’s usually linked to stress. When life gets stressful (relationships, family matters, finances, work, natural disasters, a global pandemic), and it will, your body knows it.

Cortisol levels rise and hormones linked to hunger, appetite, and food cravings spike. If you don’t stop long enough to give a nod to feeling stressed out, a lot of people calm those emotions of stress, worry, frustration, sadness, and anxiety with...food.

It’s a recipe for weight gain, obesity, and other chronic health problems. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 6 ways to avoid stress eating.

1. Ask yourself: Am I actually hungry?

You might think you’re hungry, only because emotions are high. But that doesn’t make sense if you just had lunch, right? If it’s been a few hours since you last ate, you’re probably hungry. If you just ate, take a 10-minute break before eating anything, then re-evaluate. You may discover it’s your emotions talking, not your stomach.

2. Create a mindful eating practice

You might be tempted to wolf down your food, barely chewing between bites, and slosh it down with a soda. Don’t do that, OK. That’s stress driving your eating habits, not your brain.

Instead, create a mindful eating practice. Eat meals in a designated area like the dining room or lunch room. Take time to chew your food, even pause between bites to swallow and savor the textures and flavors. And avoid eating with distractions like watching TV or using a phone. Pay attention to feeling full, and stop eating.

3. Plan ahead

When you’re stressed out, it’s easy to avoid cooking or preparing a meal with fast food, or just snacking on high-calorie treats that make you feel good. But it isn’t healthy. One easy way to combat this...plan ahead. You could write out a meal plan for the week, hit the grocery store, and stock up on everything you need. Or you could make it even easier, and pick your favorite MagicKitchen.com meals, all made from fresh ingredients and ready to eat in minutes.

Keeping healthy snacks on hand is another smart way to help you manage cravings when you’re stressed out. For example, it’s better to munch your way through an apple than an entire bag of cookies.

4. Stop, think and choose

The next time you’re feeling stressed out, and you’re about to down a candybar and a soda, do this. Stop, think, and choose. Stop yourself from simply indulging in food. Think about it. You’re reacting to some stress in your life...in a negative way. Then choose a better way:

  • Eat something healthier.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Call a friend.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Read a book.

Distract yourself long enough for the craving to pass. It takes practice. But you’ll get better at this the more you do it.

If you do overeat because you’re experiencing stress in your life, recognize what happened and move on. Now is always the best time to start over, try again, and get back on track.