5 Tips for Coping with Stress Eating 

Do you find yourself snacking when you’re under stress? Learn how to take control of your emotional eating and instill healthier habits!

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Do you turn to comfort food in emotional periods? Whether your trigger is a stressful day at work, family obligations, or an uncomfortable social situation, emotional eating is a common coping mechanism. In fact, the American Psychological Association reports that 27% of adults stress eat. To make matters worse, emotional eaters tend to reach for junk food during these binges. The following tips can help you develop healthy habits instead and learn options for coping with stress eating.

How-To Cope With Stress Eating

Whether you’re trying to achieve a weight loss goal or hoping to stave off holiday overeating this year, it’s important to understand how the cycle of mindless eating works. Emotional eating is often a way to self-soothe negative emotions while in a stressful situation.

Each time you reach for that ice cream or bag of chips when you aren’t experiencing physical hunger, you strengthen these eating habits. Worse, the comfort of overeating is temporary, and the guilt of your actions can drive you back to stress eat more. The best defense is to prepare and set yourself up for success to stop stress eating. The following approaches can help.

  1. Know Your Emotional Eating Triggers

    Start to identify the situations that impact your eating behaviors. You may not know initially, so consider keeping a food diary to start seeing those patterns. Eventually, you may notice that a particular type of event or mood tends to trigger emotional hunger.

  2. Find Ways to Relax

    Addressing your stress levels is a crucial component of adopting healthier ways. Leaning on social support systems, incorporating more exercise into your routine, journaling, or meditation can all help you reduce stress. Plus, these healthy habits support your overall mental health.

  3. Get Mindful

    If you’re experiencing intense food cravings, take a moment to practice mindfulness. Take a few deep breaths and note how you’re feeling. A growling stomach indicates real, physical hunger, but if your urges are only for unhealthy foods, it’s likely an emotional response.

  4. Try Intuitive Eating

    Dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch introduced intuitive eating in the 1990s, but the concept has been around longer than that. This approach avoids mindless eating by honoring hunger, avoiding restrictive dieting, and adopting healthier habits.

  5. Replace Mindless Snacking with Healthy Eating

    Even with the best preparation, you may find yourself unable to stop urges completely. Keeping high-fat and sugary foods out of the house can help curb your temptations. Instead, stock up on healthy treats that you can reach for without guilt. Dark chocolate, veggies and dip, and fresh fruit are great ways to treat yourself without feeling guilty or deprived.

Taking charge of your health is no small feat. There are plenty of challenges along the path to stopping stress eating. Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. Working with primary care physicians that know you and your health goals can help you stay on track. Request an appointment with Supro Direct to find out more about our dietary modification and weight management strategies in Greenwood, IN.

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