Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been guilty of stress eating. Yeah, me too. It’s a wonderful coping mechanism when stress becomes overwhelming. Yet, it’s not exactly healthy.
In fact, a reader wrote to me recently about this problem. She’s been dealing with stress eating and now, she’s trying to figure out how to lose the weight she put on in the process.
Never fear. I got you. I know how it feels, but you can overcome it and feel better than ever as you unleash your inner Unbothered Goddess.
Figuring Out The Cause
First things first, figure out what causes you to stress eat. It may just be something temporary, such as grieving the loss of a loved one or losing your job. I say temporary because at first the stress is terrible, but as you heal, the stress becomes far more manageable.
If you have regular triggers, it may be time to make some lifestyle changes. For instance, if your job keeps you so stressed that stress eating becomes an issue, it’s time to find a better job or prep ahead of time with some healthy snack options like fruit, nuts or veggies and dip. If a toxic person is the trigger, kick them out of your life.
List Alternative Options
Next, think about alternatives to eating. Even if you’re just replacing junk food with healthy food, you’re still stress eating, meaning you’re not eating out of hunger. Yeah, I know it feels good right now, but you’ll regret it later.
So, come up with a list of stress relieving options to do instead of eating. For instance, I love to journal, color in adult coloring books, meditate and exercise. Pick four or five alternatives and keep the list visible at all times. When you feel like stress eating, do an alternative instead.
Be More Mindful
I’m a big fan of practicing mindfulness. It’s a great way to help you see the differences between emotional and physical hunger. It also helps you better see your triggers to help you deal with the underlying stress.
The idea is to feed your emotions without turning to food. Pay more attention to when you’re eating and why. Use a journal to write things out to help you better understand your feelings and how you react.
Just so you know, it’s still okay to reach for comfort foods sometimes. Just don’t let stress eating take over.
Get Your Stress Out
When you bottle up stress, it’s going to find an outlet someway, somehow. So, be proactive and get your stress out. I know it might seem impossible, but just hear me out.
Take up a new hobby or get back into an old one. Make time to hang out with friends. Have game nights with your significant other. Shut yourself away for a nice bath and soothing music. Basically, invest in some self-care to help you release your stress.
Make a list of stress relievers for you. Turn to these whenever you feel stressed to keep stress from taking over.
Change Habits, Don’t Diet
I don’t really like the word “diet.” To me, it’s like saying, yea, I’m going to cut out what I love and fail miserably at my goal. The problem with dieting is it’s only temporary. The moment you stop, you go back to old habits. So, change your habits versus dieting.
Do you know why you reach for fatty or sugary junk foods when you’re stressed? They dampen your stress hormones and make you feel better. Yet, they wreak havoc on your body. Replace a few bad snacks with healthier ones. Go for a quick walk versus grabbing a bag of chips when you’re stressed. Even if it's just down the hall or around the corner.
As you slowly change your habits, stress lessens and so does your need to stress eat.
Add In Small Workouts
Now, it’s time to counter the nasty side effects of stress eating. My advice – start slow. Don’t set a goal to lose 20 pounds in a month. Be realistic. Try to lose a few pounds at most each week. It’s healthier and easier to stick to. Opt for short, small workouts once or twice a day. As you get into a routine, increase how long or how often you workout. Start with yoga or a walk around the block. Even just 10 minutes a day can make a major difference in your life. Plus, it reduces stress.
Create A Buddy System
Whether it’s dealing with stress and stress eating or just trying to lose that stress weight, don’t do it alone. Create a buddy system. Be there for each other to talk about what’s going on. Do hobbies together. Share successes about working out or even exercise together. It’s much easier when you have someone cheering you on.
Don’t worry or feel guilty. Stress eating happens to everyone. To the reader who sent this in, let me know how it goes and don’t forget you have the whole Unbothered Goddess community behind you!
Signed – The Unbothered Goddess, a woman who’s been where you are
Image: Kobby Mendez