Stress Eating: How To Avoid It

man eating spaghetti

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Ah, stress eating. Considering that stress levels in the United States and many other developed countries are through the roof, that type of eating has ended many diets (and not successfully). With obesity rates going through the roof in the United States and other countries, stress eating is a major contributor to health and other problems.

In countries where food is plentiful, weight gain typically comes from reasons other than hunger. Emotional eating  from stress is one of these reasons. But, stress eating doesn’t have to ruin your health (or good looks). Here are our tips to avoid it.

Identify Stressors

We all have things that get us stressed (stressors). Emotional eating typically involves our stressors in some capacity. Unfortunately, many of our stressors are unrecognized. While we likely know what stresses us deep down, in many cases we live in denial. For example, it’s hard for some people to admit their kids drive them crazy. Well, if you want to stop stress eating, then admit it.

And, admit all your other stressors. In fact, write them down now. Knowledge is power. Maybe your job is a stressor; or it could be driving to and from work Monday through Friday. It also could be your mom. Whatever causes you to stress eat, write it down. But, stressors themselves don’t typically cause us to eat. It’s more specific…

Identify Triggers

We all have triggers in our lives that cause us to eat. These are people, places, things, events, etc. that trigger us to eat when we normally wouldn’t. In most cases, these triggers are closely tied to our stressors (which can be more general).

For example, perhaps your job is a stressor. But, I’m sure the entire job isn’t awful all the time. No, typically certain parts of it trigger you to feel like eating. Maybe it’s your uptight boss or those two days a week when you have to cover someone else’s shift because of layoffs. Whatever the specific triggers, you have to know them too. These are typically what tell your mind you’re stressed and it’s time to eat, even when you’re full! Write these down too.

Counter The Triggers

Once you’ve identified your stressors and triggers, you’ll have to counter them in some way. Obviously this is easier said than done. But, it can be accomplished. Just knowing your triggers is sometimes the key to avoid stress eating. However, it’s also important to develop specific strategies to combat emotional eating.

Make your strategies specific to your situation. For example, if you know your boss makes you want to eat, what would stop you from eating? Maybe you run to the coffeemaker instead of the vending machine and have a low calorie coffee.It could be as simple as thinking of how great you’ll look in a bathing suit. If your son drives you nuts, maybe you go out and take a walk around your neighborhood. What matters is that you have specific strategies to combat your triggers.

Control Your Overall Stress

You can have all the best tactics in the world to avoid stress eating, but if you live a highly stress filled life, they won’t do you much good. In the Western world, general background stress is killing us (literally). So, you should find strategies that keep your life more calm and even keeled overall.

The best way to do this (and stop emotional eating) is to make mindfulness meditation a regular practice. This typically involves simply taking a few minutes of quiet time throughout the day (or more) and just being aware of your breathing. You’re letting go of the past and not thinking about the future. You are mindfully aware of the present moment and the stress melts. Take time everyday for yourself and to relax. You deserve it!

So, these tips should help you avoid stress eating and the weight gain that can come from it. Above all, stop living such a stress filled life! It’s likely killing you in more ways than one.

About Jonathan Bennett

Jonathan Bennett is a writer, speaker, dating expert, and business owner. His articles have been viewed millions of times, and he has been featured in a variety of publications, including the Wall Street Journal.