What I Wish Everyone Knew About Stress Eating
Updated: Jul 30, 2020
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This is something that is near and dear to my heart because I was an emotional/stress eater.
In fact, emotional eating and/or stress eating plus low thyroid is what led to me gaining weight very rapidly. I went from a size 8 (140 lbs) to weighting 197! You can read more about my story AND why I’m so passionate about helping others --> here.
Let’s look at what emotional eating (also known as stress eating) is...
Emotional eating or stress eating can be defined as eating to compensate for, as an alternative to, dealing with emotions.
There are various levels of emotional eating (stress eating) – from eating a whole quart of ice cream or binge eating a whole bag of chips to ... just wanting a little something to minister to your emotions to soothe you when you are in a rough patch.
Triggers of Emotional / Stress Eating
Emotional eating can come from a feeling of being deprived. Either physically or emotionally.
Or it can be from a feeling of being out of control or helpless in a situation.
Emotional Eating can also be from Past Emotional Traumas/ Events
When we have unexpressed or unresolved emotions from past painful or traumatic events they can affect our bodies in different ways. Things like digestion issues, mental and emotional issues, hormonal imbalance, thyroid, and adrenal issues, even pains and aches like neck and back pain or joint pain can come from unresolved emotional pain.
^ that was my comfort food
Steps for Success. How to Stop Emotional (Stress) Eating
Before I discuss how to stop emotional eating... let’s first look at some foundational tips that can set you up for success for when you need a little something to help you through a rough time. It’s OK to indulge with healthier options in small amounts occasionally.
Have you heard of the 80/20 Rule? You eat healthily 80% of the time and 20% you can ‘splurge’.
Well… you may be doing 80% of the 'right' things but that 20% is hindering your progress.
First, providing yourself with Smart Swaps for the foods you crave will help to keep your food choices healthier.
Instead of a candy bar, cake, cookies, etc. Try some dark chocolate chips and nuts. Or some dark chocolate dipped in your favorite nut butter.
For something salty, veggie chips, baked chips or even rice cakes are good alternatives.
Next, keep a food journal and track what you eat throughout the day. Having a clear picture of the amount and types of food you consume can help you recognize any patterns.
There are many food tracking apps like, MyFitnessPal, that can make tracking easier.
Stopping Emotional (Stress) Eating before It Starts
Stopping emotional or stress eating successfully- is done by stopping it before it starts.
Getting in tune with your emotions is one of the primary ways to stop emotional eating. Instead of plowing through a rough or stressful day, allow yourself to feel and express your emotions in an appropriate way.
Stuffing or hiding emotions-- is a surefire way for them to erupt at all the wrong times and in the wrong ways- and will likely trigger a bought of emotional eating.
Instead, acknowledge your emotions by validating what you are feeling.
Maybe your tired, upset, or sad (or other 'negative' emotion) about _____ (< fill in the blank with what resonates with you).
Maybe something reminded you of a painful event from your past that you haven’t completely dealt with or something that just simply makes you sad.
If you’ll learn to recognize the reason WHY you eat when stressed, sad, overwhelmed, etc. you will be able to make changes to your day to help minimize your triggers.
But let’s say something unexpected happens and triggers you. You automatically feel the rumbling almost overwhelming desire for a comfort food NOW!
When that happens, imagine talking to your two-year-old self. Maybe you’re tired, or not quite over a breakup and you feel a younger you demanding attention and comfort food NOW.
Speak or think gently and softly to and about yourself. Be your own best friend. Gain control of yourself. Maybe allow a small amount of the smart swap choices mentioned earlier or a small amount of a treat food.
Take some deep breathes- inhale slowly and exhale slowly when you first start to feel overwhelmed. Taking deep breaths is the easiest way to stop stress in its track and to give yourself time to think.
Commit to doing what’s necessary, as soon as you can, to release any emotions (crying, journaling etc.) from the negative situation.
Having Smart Swaps or healthy food choices on hand will help in times of crisis mode.
Feel and express your emotions appropriately. Don’t suppress them. Ignoring or suppressing emotions will only make them erupt at all the wrong times and in inappropriate ways.
Carpe Diem (make the most of the present time)
Here are some steps you can do -- right now.
Smart Swap for sweet or chocolate fix.
Cocommune, pictured below, is my favorite protein bar. This dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free vegetarian bar tastes kinda like a Mounds candy bar- yet doesn’t make me crave more sweets.
In fact, it contains plenty of fiber and protein so I fill satisfied after eating it. It’s my “treat food” so I don’t feel deprived.
"Cocommune Bar™ is a delicious, nutrition-packed functional food bar. It is made up of a dark chocolate coating and a moist and creamy coconut filling. It is sweetened with allulose, as well as erythritol and stevia, all of which have minimal effects on blood sugar and insulin levels. Each bar has just 3 grams net carbs with 2 grams total sugars, making this product suitable for anyone watching their carbohydrate intake. It also features natural fats from coconut and cocoa butter along with 7 grams of fiber including prebiotic fiber from inulin and larch arabinogalactan."
- Designs for Health
Shop my Designs for Health secure estore.
You can get a box of 18 Cocommune bars for less than $3.25 a bar!
Plus! Shipping is free on any order!
Here’s to your health!
The information shared here is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as the sharing of information only. Legal Policies
Missy Rankin, CTNC, CHC
Certified Transformation Coach
Certified Hormone Coach