What is it about stress that makes us want to stuff our face with junk food? Craving carbs during stressful times is completely normal (thanks, genetics). Your body equates stress with you being in danger so it thinks you need those extra carbs to keep you safe. And who hasn’t been a giant stress ball this year, am I right? Why we can’t crave celery and peanut butter, I don’t know, but stress eating is not a habit that you want to let continue.
Thankfully, some preparation and management on your part will help you stop stress eating once and for all.
What causes overeating?
Daily stress is by far the biggest trigger of emotional and stress eating. So, unless you live under a rock or in a cave somewhere, this trigger will push you to hide in a pantry eating a bag of chips if you’re not careful.
Common daily stressors might be not having a solid routine in place, never disconnecting from your technology, or piling too much work or pressure on yourself. Learning to reduce these external stressors will, in turn, reduce your emotional eating frequency. Since you can’t eliminate all of the external stressors in your life, check out these tips to help you avoid the stress eating cycle.
Are you actually hungry?
Sometimes we just eat out of habit or because we’re bored. Your body feels stressed so it says “hey, let’s fix this with some yummy food!”. We all know this but sometimes feel powerless to stop it. Learning the difference between actual hunger and bored snacking is vital if you want to stop stress eating once and for all.
How can you tell if you’re actually hungry or just bored? Typically, if any food sounds good to you, you are probably physically hungry. If you’re only craving something specific it is probably just emotional hunger.
When you’re feeling stressed and on the verge of stress eating, taking your mind off of that feeling will help you avoid stress eating. The best way to take your mind off of these cravings is to get active. Go to the gym, go for a run, do a Beachbody workout online. Whatever you do, get your booty moving!
Now, I am not saying to ignore your hunger pangs and go workout instead. I am only suggesting that you take a minute to do an activity to see if you are truly hungry. If after your activity you are still hungry, then you are actually hungry and not just stress eating.
Chew some gum
So, hopefully, this one doesn’t need a ton of explanation. Sometimes when you’re stressed, just the act of chewing will trick your body and satisfy your stress eating cravings. Crazy, huh?
Have good snacks on hand
Ok, you’ve done your Beachbody PiYo workout, chewed some gum, and you’re still hungry. Now that you’ve determined that you are hungry and not just looking for stress relief it is ok to proceed with some (healthy) snacks to curb your hunger.
Looking for something sweet? Try apple slices with some peanut butter, three-ingredient peanut butter cookies, or some quick oatmeal and chocolate chip sourdough muffins. If salty is more your speed, try some homemade kale chips or some roasted chickpeas.
The options for healthy snacks are endless! A quick Pinterest search will load you up with a ton of ideas and recipes to try. Check out this website to get you started.
These tips to stop stress eating once and for all may seem like simple ones, but tackling your stress eating doesn’t have to be complicated. Pay close attention to how your body reacts to different stress triggers and plan accordingly. If you know you’re going to be in back to back work meetings all day, plan ahead and pack yourself a healthy snack. If you get stressed when all your laundry piles up on the weekend, space your loads out throughout the week. Only you know what works best for you and your body. Take control and tackle your stress eating head-on. You got this!