How To Keep Stress From Driving You To Overeat
Try these expert-approved strategies to redirect those stressed-out emotions.
When you’re stressed, eating can seem like just the thing to quell your emotionswhether you’re feeling boredom, loneliness, depression, or even anxiety. Problem is, stress eating is hard to stop, and that can lead to overeating. If you’re trying to maintain your weight, stress eating makes it harder.
Stress unleashes the hormone cortisol, and eating actually does make you feel betterat least for a little while. Food can give us the same type of reward and pleasure that even drugs will, Melissa Majumdar, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells Health. Munching can also serve as a distraction from whatevers stressing you out.
But eating to quell stressrather than hungerisnt a winning strategy. Whether you have an anxiety disorder or youre facing ongoing stress in your life, a few simple tips can help tame stress eating.
How To End Emotional Eating
Five proven ways to stop overeating when you’re anxious, stressed, or depressed.
Heres a trick question: Why do people eat?
On a basic level, you might say you eat to survive: Food provides fuel for the body. But in truth, we eat for lots of reasons, said Susan Albers-Bowling, PsyD, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic Family Health Center and author of “Eat Q: Unlock the Weight-Loss Power of Emotional Intelligence.”
Many times people eat to feed their feelings both happy and sad. When feelings affect when, what, and how much you eat, its called emotional eating.
However, emotional eating can often lead to overeating. When you eat to satisfy your emotions and not your physical hunger, it can be hard to stop even if your stomach is full.
Give Volumetrics A Try
Volumetrics is a way to eat that focuses on filling up on low calorie, high fiber foods like non-starchy vegetables.
Consuming foods that are low in calories and high in fiber and water before meals can help you feel full, which might decrease overeating.
Examples of volumetrics-friendly foods include grapefruit, salad greens, broccoli, beans, tomatoes, and low-sodium broth.
Eating a large salad or bowl of low-sodium, broth-based soup before lunch and dinner may be an effective way to prevent overeating.
Summary Use the volumetrics method of eating fill up on healthy, low-calorie, high-fiber foods to help promote feeling full.
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Comfort Eating Is Common Among The Entire Population
In one study, anxiety was the most frequently cited among a list of emotions that trigger binge eating, followed by sadness, tiredness, anger, and happiness . Keep in mind, however, that it is not only those with Binge Eating Disorder who use food to cope with anxiety.
Many individuals who do not engage in binge eating still engage in emotional overeating eating more than their body needs for nutrition in response to emotional triggers, including anxiety.
Indulge Without Overeating By Savoring Your Food
When you eat to feed your feelings, you tend to do so quickly, mindlessly consuming food on autopilot. You eat so fast you miss out on the different tastes and textures of your foodas well as your bodys cues that youre full and no longer hungry. But by slowing down and savoring every bite, youll not only enjoy your food more but youll also be less likely to overeat.
Slowing down and savoring your food is an important aspect of mindful eating, the opposite of mindless, emotional eating. Try taking a few deep breaths before starting your food, putting your utensils down between bites, and really focusing on the experience of eating. Pay attention to the textures, shapes, colors and smells of your food. How does each mouthful taste? How does it make your body feel?
Practice mindful eating
Eating while youre also doing other thingssuch as watching TV, driving, or playing with your phonecan prevent you from fully enjoying your food. Since your mind is elsewhere, you may not feel satisfied or continue eating even though youre no longer hungry. Eating more mindfully can help focus your mind on your food and the pleasure of a meal and curb overeating. See Mindful Eating.
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How Is Binge Eating Disorder Diagnosed
If a doctor thinks a child or teen might have a binge eating disorder, they’ll ask lots of questions about their medical history and dietary habits. The doctor will also ask about the family history, family eating patterns, and emotional issues.
To diagnose binge eating disorder, doctors and mental health professionals look for signs such as:
- eating more food than most people eat in a set period of time
- a sense of lack of control over eating
- binge eating, on average, at least once a week for at least 3 months
- binge eating associated with:
- eating faster than most people
- eating until uncomfortably full
What Else Should I Know About Diet And Anxiety
Anxiety is linked with many physical illnesses. In addition to taking guidance from your doctor about options for treating anxiety, you should augment that treatment by paying attention to how and what you eat. A review of the literature examining the effects of diet on anxiety-related behavior highlighted that foods high in fat and/or sugar, or that are highly palatable, can affect behavior in animal models, and may do the same in humans. More human studies are needed.
Some of the following tips may be useful for you:
- eat a healthy and balanced diet along the lines of a Mediterranean diet
- cut back on sugar and processed foods
- cut back on caffeine, alcohol, and smoking cigarettes
- eat foods rich in zinc, like whole grains, oysters, kale, broccoli, legumes, and nuts
- eat foods rich in magnesium: fish, avocado, dark leafy greens
- eat foods rich in vitamin B, such as asparagus, leafy greens, meat, and avocado
- eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, for example, wild caught salmon
- eat probiotic-rich foods like kefir, yogurt, and other fermented foods.
Of course, first and foremost, follow the medical advice of your doctor. Discuss diet, lifestyle, and medication changes, and keep track of your symptoms to see whether they improve.
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Stop Stress Eating By Being Certain
Our brains love certainty. Certainties in our lives are things we can 100% count on.
For example, how wonderful does it feel to know you are loved by a spouse or parent? How assuring is it to know that every Friday your paycheck will be deposited?
When things are certain, our brains dont have to go into protective mode they can simply rest.
Anxiety is caused by thoughts that have no place to land. As a bird flies over the vast waters, they have no choice but to keep going until there is a resting place.
As you look over your Anxiety List so far, how can you infuse certaintiy in to those worries.
Even in an ever-changing, unstable world, there are still facts that can grant us peace such as the assurance of Gods love, our familys support, and our history of resilience.
Choose Filling Nutritious Foods
Stocking your kitchen with filling, nutrient-dense foods can not only help improve your overall health but also combat the tendency to stress eat highly palatable foods.
For example, filling your fridge and pantry with foods that can help fill you up in a healthful way rather than foods rich in empty calories like candy, chips, and soda is a smart way to prevent the chances of noshing on unhealthy choices.
Filling foods are ones that are high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Nuts, seeds, avocados, beans, and eggs are just some examples of nutritious, satisfying choices that can help fill you up and prevent overeating (
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Ways To Handle Stress Eating
In order to get control of stress eating, you have to control your stress levels. The best way to deal with stress is to address current situations head-on and, at the same time, learn to be prepared to handle stressful situations in the future before both the problem and your eating behavior get out of hand. These 5 steps can help you manage stress and avoid stress eating:
Types Of Appetite Problems From Anxiety
Appetite problems are never a primary symptom there must be something else linked to it. In fact, most people do not even realize they have acquired slight changes to their diet. Instead, they believe they are just eating differently while under periods of stress and/or anxiety – or they may not notice at all.
There are multiple appetite changes that can take place, but the most common include:
- Eating More – Some people experience a greater appetite when they have anxiety.
- Eating Less – Others experience much less hunger and thirst with anxiety.
Appetite should not be confused with digestion or any associated issues with it. Anxiety can cause digestion issues, but these are usually instigated by causes other than eating more or less.
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Listen To Good Mood Music
Music can have a powerful effect on your mood and on anxiety. They key however is to not just choose songs you like. but also make sure that you are listening to music that represents the way you want to feel. Happy or relaxing music can directly impact your mood and the way you feel.
While many people find it soothing to listen to angry music when theyâre angry or sad music when theyâre sad, the truth is that this type of music will only help you get in touch with those negative emotions. That won’t help you feel better. When you’re trying to stop anxiety, you should listen to music that will help you feel the way you want to feel.
Keep Your Goals In Mind
Setting short- and long-term goals and referring to them often may help you stay on track and reduce the urge to overeat.
Knowing the reason for overcoming overeating and how overeating is preventing you from reaching your health and wellness goals can motivate you to work toward establishing new eating patterns.
Jotting down motivational quotes and hanging them in prominent places around your living space can help inspire you to stick to a plan throughout the day.
Summary Identify specific short- and long-term eating goals and refer to them often. It can even be helpful to place motivational quotes around your home.
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How To Stop Emotional Eating Forever
Emotional eating is caused by feelings of anxiety that overwhelm our nervous system and can lead us to feel depressed or drained. In order to know how to stop emotional eating forever, read below.
Why Does Anxiety Make Me Want To Eat? Emotional eating can be addictive as it provides an outlet to soothe unwanted emotions we experience. These emotions include loneliness, boredom, sadness, heartbreak, and loss.
When these negative feelings overwhelm us, our brain receives them and begins looking for solutions to release serotonin and make us happy again. This can often mask itself as a strong desire for a sugary sweet treat.
It becomes important to know how to stop anxiety eating because no matter what leads us to stress eat, the result is fleeting joy and lasting guilt.
How Do I Stop Emotional Eating? To prevent a relapse, here are tips on how to stop emotional eating forever.
1. Know Your Triggers: The presence of certain factors can have you reaching for a treat and consuming it swiftly, with minimal enjoyment, to distract you from the stressors at hand. These can include financial constraints, relationship disputes, fatigue, and health issues.
When these triggers start propelling you to overeat follow these tips
2. Keep A Food Diary: Keeping a food diary is a great solution when looking into how to stop anxiety binge eating.
You can also have healthy alternatives on standby like nuts, grapes to keep the boredom at bay while you engage in these leisure activities.
Find Your Solution To Stress Eating
One way to manage and even CRUSH anxiety is to give those anxious thoughts a place to settle down. A solution per se. But, dont sweat it, you dont have to actually solve the problem to find relief.
With the Crushing Anxiety List, you take a moment each day to identify those things that bother you and offer your brain a landing point/solution.
For example, after the birth of our daughter, I had a tremendous amount of anxiety over how to feed her. I was on medication for insomnia that piggybacked on my postpartum. And, it threw a real wrench into my breastfeeding plans.
With the Crushing Anxiety List, I would write down this concern each day it loomed and offer my brain a solution I was going to exclusively pump until the baby was 6 months old and then reevaluate. When 6 months arrived, I set a new goal.
Another example is a worrisome health concern that runs like a broken record in our brains. Rather than ruminating on this concern , I created solutions on my list:
Having the plan gave peace. Until then, there was no purpose or need to worry.
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Pause When Cravings Hit And Check In With Yourself
Most emotional eaters feel powerless over their food cravings. When the urge to eat hits, its all you can think about. You feel an almost unbearable tension that demands to be fed, right now! Because youve tried to resist in the past and failed, you believe that your willpower just isnt up to snuff. But the truth is that you have more power over your cravings than you think.