People eat for many reasons besides hunger. Many emotions can trigger cravings, and stress is one of the most common. Stress eating is not a healthy practice, as it often leads to overeating, as well as snacking on unhealthy foods.
Since this can lead to both weight gain and health problems, it can
cause even more stress, feeding the vicious cycle. The best way to break
this cycle is to become aware of your triggers, and deal with them as
The following are seven signs you are a stress eater, and some ways to stop.
ack foods when your belly is
already at capacity? Maybe you had a big breakfast, but an intense
morning meeting has you running to the office vending machine before 10
am. If this is you, make a mental note of how you are feeling when you
get these cravings – are you anxious?
STOP IT! Next time your stress sends you searching
for a snack on a full stomach, try chewing on some peppermint leaves or
cardamom seeds instead. It may also help to drink a glass of water, and
get up for a few minutes and take a walk, until your stress passes.
2. When you are facing a deadline, or a stressful event, you immediately think of having a snack.
If the anticipation of something important or frightening coming up
sends you straight to the fridge, it is likely you are eating from a
source of anxiety.
STOP IT! The best way to tackle this is to think
thoroughly about the event at hand. If it’s something you have to do,
breaking it down into manageable steps on paper can relieve some of the
If it’s an inevitable circumstance looming in the near future, making
a list of positives about the situation, as well as possible solutions
for any negatives, can help a lot.
3. If you experience a setback, you soothe yourself with food.
Maybe you’ve been passed over for a promotion, arrived late for an
important meeting, or had an argument with a loved one. If you find
yourself constantly munching as you ruminate what happened, you need to
find a better way to soothe yourself.
STOP IT! Before reaching straight for the nibbles,
try taking a hot bath, going for a run, doing some yoga, going to the
spa or getting a massage. These are wonderful ways to get you feeling
better without the calories.
4. When you are feeling anxious, food seems like a decent substitute for a friend.
Some people call up a friend when they are feeling jittery or stressed,
and others have a meal or snack. In extreme cases, you may even talk to
your food and tell it what’s wrong, or ask it for advice.
STOP IT! Call up a real friend! If you’ve neglected
your social life lately, maybe it’s time to sign up for a class or
activity to meet some new people. Also, being your own best friend is
critical. Talking to yourself sure beats talking to a bag of chips.
5. When you’re eating your favorite food, you find it difficult to stop.
Every bite seems to soothe your emotions and make you feel better –
although your stomach may not feel so great. When you finally stop
eating, you feel like you can barely move, or like you’ve been hit by a
STOP IT! If you’re constantly going to unhealthy
snacks, it can help to keep these out of the house. In the case of a
healthy food that you are just going overboard on, it may help to make
your meals and snacks in advance, and then portion them out in
containers in your fridge or pantry. That way, you’ll be more mindful of
how much you are eating.
6. You get cravings at strange times during the day.
Morning, noon, night, whether you are full or not – whenever the stress
hits, you get a craving. Sometimes you may not even know you are
stressed, until you realize you’re getting a craving for something that
usually soothes you.
STOP IT! Get on a regular eating schedule. Healthy
snacks are perfectly ok, so plan for these too. If you get the urge to
eat outside of your schedule, first make sure that you are eating
enough, and that your schedule is enough to satisfy your actual hunger.
If it is, try and stick to it and eat only what you’ve planned out.
7. Your stress temporarily dissolves after a snack. Your mind is spinning, your heart is racing… until you have that first bite. Then, everything is zen… for a little while.
Recognize that the food you are indulging on does not actually do
anything to help the cause of your stress. Instead, decide to start
tackling the real problems. Write down what is making you feel stressed
and anxious, as well as a list of possible solutions to each problem.
Assess each solution for practicality, then if they pass the test, give
them a try.
If you find that you have a problem with stress eating, and cannot
seem to shake it no matter how many of the above tips and tricks you
try, it may be time to talk to a counselor. Emotional eating can be a
sign of a deeper issue, and talking to a professional may help you get
in touch with what’s at the root of your stress, so you can start
working on managing it in a healthy way.
-The Alternative Daily