Now more so than probably any other time in your life, you are more likely to be stress eating or just eating because you are bored. For many of us that are not essential workers, COVID-19 has thrown many of us back into the swing of developing bad habits. Stress eating is one of those bad habits! During this catawampus time, you are spending more time at home, it is way too easy to turn to food when you have the unruly feeling of stress and anxiety. Especially if you are currently out of work or have family members who are in rough shape. Unfortunately, this is a normal stress response, and not fundamentally bad, although you might want to use other things such as exercise to help with coping so it will balance your use of food to cope. Knowing this is a crazy time, here are 4 tips to help reduce how much you stress or emotionally eat.
You Should Know Your Stress Triggers:
One way to avoid stress eating is to be aware of what causes you stress in the first place. For numerous people, it is not just a typical feeling of stress, but certain things that can trigger it. This might be reading the same redundant reports on the news, going on social media way too much, talking to certain people, taking work home or even something like not getting enough sunshine or having a different routine. Start making note of how you feel, what exacerbates your stress or anxiety, and when you tend to emotionally eat.
Get into a Mindful State
Another way to reduce how often you turn to food because of stress is to be more mindful of what you’re doing. Think about if it is because of stress, a craving or even boredom.
Remember when you start to feel stressed, you should take a moment to just take some deep breaths, relax, and sit with your feelings for a few minutes. Do not worry this doesn’t mean you are going to be depriving yourself and not eat, but you first need to understand if you are hungry, or if your brain is just reacting to stress.
It is known that people tend to stress eat because it feels like a temporary fix and a way to have some sort of control over how you feel. But do not stress over stress eating, yes I know, a ridiculous statement but if you can just sit with those feelings and slow down a bit, you might find you don’t need the food until you are physically hungry.
Don’t Let Yourself Get Too Hungry
This may be rocket science but if you are going to go without meals or snacks for several hours at a time, you will obviously turn to food first to deal with stress, anxiety, or any other uncomfortable emotions. Now know once you have gotten yourself that hungry you are now starving; not only will you be more likely to turn to food to cope with the stress, but you likely not to choose the healthiest option. By this point, your body wants the quickest and most convenient option, so you are probably going to choose that yummy bag of chips and an even more yummy cookie instead of cooking something more wholesome.
Emotional VS Physical Hunger
One last think you need to learn is the difference between emotional and physical hunger. This is something that will help you immensely to figure out if you are actually hungry, or your brain just wants food.
Here are a few tips to tell the difference:
Is this hunger coming on slowly or suddenly? Physical hunger tends to come on gradually, while emotional hunger will be urgent and sudden.
Do you feel satisfied? If after a meal or snack, you feel full or satisfied, it was physical hunger. If you still feel “ravenous”, it was probably emotional hunger.
Can you eat anything? If you feel fine eating anything, it is more like physical hunger. But if you only want specific things, it might just be emotional hunger.
Thank you for reading my article about stress eating and ways to manage it! Please stay tuned for more from me. If you’d like to learn more about managing your health & wellness schedule your free consultation to see if we are a good fit to make lifelong changes for the good.