We all have our go-to comfort food when the stress kicks in. A bag of chips after an angry email from your client. A tub of ice cream for a devastating break-up. Pizza for not closing that thousand-dollar deal in time. Comfort food they are, they do their job for the night, until you wake up and realize you ate too much and feel the guilt sink in.
Stress causes your body to release cortisol, increasing your appetite. Stress also makes you feel that your life is spinning out of control and you then feel overwhelmed, which can translate into your eating habits. You’re worried about the past or the future, and not what you are eating right now.
“Stress eating usually occurs when we want to detach from reality. It’s like switching to another imaginary channel in our brains to try and change our feelings,” notes Min-Hai-Alex, a registered dietitian and founder of Mindful Nutrition in Seattle.
It’s a vicious habit that if left unchecked, can leave you with permanent negative effects. Here are 5 no non-sense ways to combat stress eating:
- Get to the root of the real issue.
Stress eating is not the focal issue, but a symptom of internal conflict. Ask yourself the hard questions to figure out what areas in your life are stressing you out.
- Focus on the future.
Before you give in to stress eating, take a moment to visualize who you will become in 5 years, or where you will be in in 6 months. Focusing on the future takes you out of the painful and stressful moment so you can make healthier food choices instead of being seduced by that sexy bag of Lays.
- Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness training, one of the many stress reduction techniques, can help you be more conscious about yourself and your body. You will learn to identify your feelings, acknowledge the less pleasant ones, and apply focused breathing exercises so you can fight the instinct to reach out for a snack.
- Be kind to yourself.
Sometimes what your stress eating habits need is just a little bit of self-love. If you become your own best friend, it’s going to be easier to fight the urge to disconnect from reality through stress-eating. If you do stress eat, accept the guilt, move on, and encourage yourself to make better choices later. You can also practice reciting these modern mantras to yourself to manage a stressful situation.
- If all else fails…
Throw caution to the wind and indulge. Food is a beautiful, comforting thing, so if you’re going to eat your favorite comfort food anyway, then enjoy it fully. Sit down, let every tense muscle relax, and savor that scoop of ice cream to the last drop. But of course, still do everything in moderation.
These tips were adapted from this original list by Dailyburn.
Do you struggle with stress-eating too? How are you coping with it? Share your stories in the comments below!