You have a bad day at work. Your kids aren’t doing well at school. Maybe you’re having marital issues. Perhaps your main source of stress isn’t even that anything is going wrong, you’re just really busy! Whatever it is that is causing your stress, you have a problem: you have a stress eating disorder.
Unfortunately, many people suffer from a binge eating disorder. As a result, it’s really common for people to begin compulsive eating when they feel stressed or emotional. Negative side-affects include:
- Poor nutrition
- Lower levels of energy
- Contribute to long-term weight gain
- Loss of confidence
Even just short bouts of binge or emotional eating can consequently have long-term effects. That’s why it’s essential that you get a grip on it. To overcome stress eating, there are several things you can do.
With the following three tips to end your stress eating for good, you’ll be a healthy eater and feel less stressed no matter what life throws your way.
1. Break The Cycle – Replace Food With A Healthier Alternative
One of the main things you need to understand in order to get control of your emotional eating habit is that it is a habit. Emotional eating is something you repeatedly do as a part of a pattern. There are triggers that set the pattern off, and you fall into the habit in order to make yourself feel better.
Identify what triggers the pattern. Is it conversations with a certain person? Big projects with tight deadlines at work? Once you know what causes you to feel the need to over eat, you have the power to break the cycle.
In order to break the cycle, however, you need to find a new, healthier method of dealing with your stress. Essentially, you need to replace food as a form of comfort.
Common stress-reducing comforts include:
- Going for a run or a walk
- Repetitive hobbies like knitting, organizing, completing chores
When you begin to crave or reach for food to assuage the feelings that you can’t deal with, turn to your replacement comfort instead. Just before your replacement allows you to think, relax, and work out your feelings.
2. Disassociate Food And Stress With Careful Planning
Often, you over eat while stressed because the food and emotions are connected. Think about it. When you have difficult conversations at work, do they often happen right before you head out for a meal? If you have big deadlines or are constantly busy and under-pressure, what’s the only time you have to relax? Probably when you eat.
Subconsciously, many binge eaters are using food to compensate for a lack of peace, relaxation, or comfort. Over-eaters tend to feel that the more they eat, the more they get those things they are lacking. Does this sound familiar?
Don’t let associations between stress and food keep you feeling trapped. Carefully plan when you suspect a binge eating episode is coming on so that you have the upper hand.
- Avoid having difficult or stressful conversations during or before meals
- Plan so that you don’t have to go shopping when you know you will be stressed
- Keep your favorite food stash loaded at all times so you don’t have to run out and buy more while under pressure
- Make time for fun, healthy de-stressors at times when you otherwise go for food
If you identify a trigger for your stress eating, start planning ahead when you know you might experience the temptation. Don’t worry if you can’t plan for stressors because they are spontaneous, just keep your shelves stocked and get into healthy, relaxing habits so that when you are tempted, you’re already prepared to deal with it in healthier ways!
3. Keep Track Of Your Health By Sticking To Your Schedule
On the days that you feel emotional or stressed, do you have trouble keeping track of everything that is going on? That’s normal. Strong emotions tend to be overwhelming. Unfortunately, that often means losing track of your normal schedule, your health, and how much you eat.
The best way to combat over-eating is to develop healthy eating habits that are hard to break. Part of such habit development is that you need to set a regular schedule for sleeping and de-stressing too because those go hand in hand with what you consume and your body’s digestion.
Stick to a schedule even while stressed by:
- Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day
- Sticking to your regular daily schedule
- Planning 3 healthy meals in advance
- Scheduling snacks as rewards, not comforts
- Making time daily for de-stressing
It’s a lot harder to change healthy habits into bad ones than it is to stop yourself from falling into negative patterns when you have no other structure to turn to. Don’t wait until your stressors are triggered. Start living healthy today to protect your diet tomorrow.