Read on to learn how to stop stress eating by adopting healthier habits to cope with difficult situations in this article.
How to Stop Stress Eating: Things You Should Know
Step 1: Become Aware of Your Problem
The first step to overcoming stress eating is self-awareness. You have to acknowledge your problem and that you have to do something about it.
This might seem easy, but it’s actually very tricky. We call stress eating “mindless eating” because more often than not we don’t even realize that we use food as a coping mechanism when faced with stressful situations.
People usually become aware of their eating problems when someone points out their weight gain. It could come from their friend, workmate, family, or lover.
Step 2: Keep a Journal
By this stage, you should already be aware that you have a stress eating problem. However, awareness of the issue and knowing how to overcome it are two very different things.
To get started on your journey, opt to keep a food journal. Any notebook will do, but it’d be best to use a small, handy one you can carry around wherever you go.
Here, you will list every single item that you consume. Make sure to include everything from the heavy meals you eat to the small candies you munch on after lunch.
The idea here is to beat mindless eating by maintaining awareness. That way, you’ll always be reminded of your goal and what you have to do to achieve it.
Step 3: Avoid Stress Eating Triggers
A solid way to stop stress eating is to understand the incidents and occasions that trigger it. People often mindlessly consume food when they:
- Feel Tired: It’s easy to turn to food when we are physically or emotionally drained. This often happens to people who just finished a long day at work. They open a bag of chips and soda, plop on the couch, and proceed to binge-watch their favorite shows.
- Have Nothing Better to Do: People often lead active/busy lifestyles. Teens are at school and adults are either at work or with their families. So when your schedule suddenly frees up and you have nothing better to do, you almost instinctively use food to fill that gap.
- Are Out with Friends: It’s hard to stick to your diet when you’re out with your friends. A simple dinner could turn into an intense eating and drinking festival if you’re not careful.
- See Food: Some people instantly get cravings when they see anything that’s related to food. It could be a commercial, a food poster, or even a group of people eating at your favorite fast-food place.
Once you understand what events or occasions trigger stress eating, it’ll be easier to avoid or at least control them.
Step 4: Create Counteractive Plans
There are cases where it’s just impossible to avoid your stress eating triggers. After all, these are a part of life and happen to almost everybody.
So instead, it’d be wiser if you developed counteractive measures to avoid mindlessly consuming food when faced with these triggers.
- Tiredness: If you often eat snacks when you’re physically or emotionally tired, you can replace your stress eating with a healthier alternative. For example, instead of munching on snacks after a heavy workday, opt to do some simple stretching exercises or yoga. You’ll find these activities to be more rewarding and fulfilling.
- Boredom: To fight boredom, you need to learn a new hobby. Some good examples would be sports, writing, photography, gardening, dancing, and drawing, among others.
- Peer Pressure: The best way to avoid peer pressure is to say no. Limit yourself to one night out every week so you don’t end up eating or drinking more than you should.
Step 5: Create a Diet Plan
Now that you’ve developed a foolproof plan on how to counteract stress eating, it’s time to overhaul your diet. Most of the time, unhealthy snacking stems from an irresponsible, unmaintained diet.
So if you want to stop unhealthy snacking, you need to create a healthy diet plan to commit to.
Firstly, identify what you usually eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Write them all down on a sheet of paper so you can assess them later on.
Once you do so, see if you can find healthier alternatives to replace your usual meals. For example, instead of the usual burger and fries combo for lunch, you can try something cleaner like chicken breast and broccoli.
Next, learn how to cook. You don’t have to be a master chef, but if you want to stay fit, you need to know how to cook your own meals.
As a general rule, stick to all-natural, nutrient-dense ingredients such as chicken breast, lean beef, veggies, and fruits. Skip the preservatives and fatty meat.
Lastly, plan and prepare your meals for the week. Once you know what you want to eat, list them down so you don’t forget them later on.
Better yet, you can prepare your meals in advance and just heat them when it’s mealtime already.
Step 6: Commit to Your Plan and Control Your Stress
Now you’ve created your master plan on how to stop stress eating and you also have a healthy diet program to follow. All that’s left now is to commit to it.
Some extra tips to make the process easier for you include:
- Setting Rewards: Working toward your goals becomes easier if you have incentives to motivate you. For example, you can use your favorite treats as a reward if you commit to your diet plan for two weeks straight.
- Journaling: Keeping track of everything that you do is one of the best ways to maintain mindfulness.
- Seeking Help: Don’t be afraid to seek help. Overcoming stress is difficult and you can’t expect to do it alone. What you can do is seek help from a trusted individual such as a friend, family member, or medical professional.
- Use Supplements: There are plenty of supplements that help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression such as Chill Pill by Dr. Seeds. Adding these to your supplement program may help you cope with the process easier.
Uncontrollable stress eating habits lead to physiological diseases/complications and mental health issues. It may lead to you feeling down and prone to illnesses such as heart failure, diabetes, and hypertension.
Overall, you should learn how to deal with difficult situations in a healthy, or at least non-detrimental, way. Once you do so, stopping stress eating may become significantly easier to do.
How do you curb your cravings when stress hits? Share your tips on how to avoid stress eating in the comments section below!
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