How to stop stress eating

-Feb 25, Hannah Hargrave , Nutrition -

When you’re stressed it’s normal to seek comfort from your favourite foods, but if those snacks are sugary, salty and processed you’re only putting your body under more strain. If your stress eating is getting out of control, it’s time to curb it for the sake of your physical and mental health. Here’s how.

A packet of cookies or a family bag of crisps might make you feel better in that stress fuelled moment, but longterm – and even an hour down the line – you’re likely going to regret it. And yet next time you’re feeling under pressure the chances are you’ll do exactly the same because stress has a nasty habit of chipping away at your willpower too. 

So what can you do to stop mindlessly dipping your hand in the chocolate pot and stop stress snacking once and for all?

Go for a walk

Removing yourself from a stress eating situation is one of the best ways to avoid caving in, so when temptation strike take yourself off for a spot of walking. By doing this you’re quite literally wandering into a much healthier state of mind.

Even a few minutes of exercise can reduce stress and in turn you are less likely to make unhealthy choices. 

Related: Walk your way to inner peace and calm

Alternative sweet treats

Stress doesn’t just strike when you’re at work. Home life can be overwhelming too or you may bring your work woes home with you. For this reason it’s common for your mind to start going into worry mode near bedtime when you should be preparing for rest and relaxation, not looking for something to eat.

But if you absolutely can’t suppress the urge for something sweet then have a healthy alternative to hand. Greek yoghurt with cinnamon and cacao chips will satisfy your sweet tooth, but won’t leave you with a case of the guilts to add to your worries. 

Identify your triggers

Make a snack diary so that you can work out when your stress eating is at it’s worst. It’s common to find there are times of day you struggle most. This could be during a mid afternoon slump or after certain situations might trigger your urge to eat. 

By identifying these you can do something about them. Reassess your overall diet so you can stay fuller longer or rearrange your schedule to make more time for breaks. 

Sip water or green tea

Dehydration can often be mistaken for hunger and while we admit sipping a cup of tea or a glass of water might not hit the spot like the pastry you’ve been eying up, it will actually help you feel physically full. A warm cup of tea can be a soothing stress reliever as well. 

Related: Is green tea the hero to your health problems?

Put the snacks away

Even the most disciplined of people will struggle not to stray when temptation is put in front of them on a daily basis. So it’s time to put away the jar of M&M’s on your desk and clear your drawers out of all things unhealthy. 

If the vending machine is your port of call, then don’t bring cash to the office, and if you work from home try  not to have naughty treats around, even if it means locking up the kid’s sweeties and giving the key to your partner. 

Wait a minute

If you’re making a conscious decision to go and get a fast food fix or unhealthy snack, stop and think for a minute before you decide if you’re a.) really hungry and b.) if this is what you want to eat. 

Giving yourself a tiny bit of time to weigh up the pros and cons will make it more likely you’ll make the right decision. 

Reduce stress

It goes without saying that if you want to curb your stress induced eating habits, then you want to reduce your stress levels. 

The great thing is that many of the tips to lessen stress will also have a positive impact on your diet choices. 

 – exercise has been shown to reduce stress and if you’re working out you’re less likely to ruin your hard work with unhealthy food choices. 

 – improved sleep will lessen your cravings, make life feel more manageable and better your overall health.

 – reducing alcohol intake will also reduce those evening munchies and give you a clearer head space as well. 

For more tips to reduce the stress in life read what Dr. Rangan Chatterjee told Lumity about dealing with and lowering stress

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