Are you a stress eater, someone who copes with their stress or anxiety through overindulging in food? According to a study by the American Psychological Association, apa.org, ” Twenty-seven percent of adults say they eat to manage stress and 34 percent of those who report overeating or eating unhealthy foods because of stress say this behavior is a habit.”
Look around you and it doesn’t take long to feel a little bit of stress or anxiety by what you see, cost of gas and food, job concerns, war talk… every day it seems like there is something new to cause us concern. However, we can agree that overeating unhealthy foods does not help our stress, and only adds to it. So how do we stop ourselves from stress eating? How do we create healthier habits that can reduce stress eating and even diminish our worries or anxiety?
How to Stop Stress Eating
- Stop, Think, & Drink: Before you reach for a snack, stop and thing, are you really hungry or just frustrated or bored. Drink a full glass of water instead. Are you still as interest in the chips, or can you hold off for now?
- Engage in Physical Activities: Join a fitness class or get to the gym on a regular basis. Grab a walking or jogging pal. Not only will this help your overall stress coping stills, it also will help you burn the calories you do consume. When you start paying attention to your physical condition with exercise, you are less likely to binge on unhealthy snacks when you are stressed.
- Check Your shopping List: Help yourself avoid temptation when you are stressed by shopping on a full stomach. Do yourself a favor and resist the urge to keep junk food easily available. Buy healthy snacks, fresh fruits and vegetables, instead.
- Portion Control: Get into a good habit of using a small dish for your food. Instead of grabbing the whole bag or container and sitting down to eat, put your food in a small dish or bowl. And then savor the taste by eating it slowly.
- Prevent Boredom: Sometimes when we are restless or bored our stress eating really surfaces. Make a list of things you could or should do when you feel bored. Learn how to cook a new and healthy dish, keep an interesting book out, visit a friend of family member, take a walk with the dog, go to the gym, plan a new hobby that is fun and readily available for you. Determine the activities that help keep your mind off of unhealthy eating habits when you aren’t actually hungry.
- Keep Good Eating Choices Readily Available: It is a lot easier to make better eating choices when you are stressed if those choices are readily available. Have pre-cut fruit and vegetables ready for you. Put a healthy ranch dressing for dipping on your shopping list. Keep a granola bar or protein bar in your bag, so when you are out and about you can eat that instead of driving through the fast food restaurant.
- Check Your Ingredients: Get used to checking ingredients of all your foods. Learn what these foods do to your body. Start to sensitize yourself to the harm that they do, so that even when you are under stress you decide you need a better option.
- Set a Regular Schedule for Meals: Even if you have a tendency to stress eat, recognize that eating isn’t the issue. It is amount and type of foods. Make a set schedule for your regular meals. Fill the meals with proteins and vegetables. Get in the nutrients that you need and the protein to keep you going.
- Learn to Forgive Yourself: Even if you make a mistake and binge eat, learn from it. Don’t stress yourself out more by getting upset. Instead, try to figure out where you went wrong and how to fix it for next time. And remember that it is okay to occasionally treat yourself.
Remember that creating good habits take time and patience with yourself. Slowly and steadily take the steps that will help you combat stressful eating to create a healthier and happier lifestyle. If you or someone you care about struggles with stress starving, check out our helpful ideas here.